The Republican Party celebrated St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday by taking a swing at Beto O’Rourke.
In an afternoon tweet from the party’s official Twitter account, the GOP plopped a cartoonish leprechaun hat atop O’Rourke’s mug shot from his 1998 arrest for drunken driving and offered a few words of advice: “Please drink responsibly.”
Below O’Rourke’s doctored photo, the GOP tweeted, “On this St. Paddy's Day, a special message from noted Irishman Robert Francis O'Rourke." His nickname of "Beto," a common Mexican nickname for people with his first name, has stuck since childhood.
That wasn’t the end of it.
An hour later, the GOP’s official account called O’Rourke “a failed Member of Congress,” pointing to his voting record in support of Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House Speaker, and his vote against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which, according to the GOP, “added 362,200 jobs to his home state,” among other things.
On this St. Paddy's Day, a special message from noted Irishman Robert Francis O'Rourke. pic.twitter.com/JRjMEXhZRY— GOP (@GOP) March 17, 2019
The party's attack on O'Rourke was almost immediately criticized – even by Republicans.
Republican strategist John Weaver, who worked on John Kasich's 2016 presidential campaign, called the tweet “vile” and “indicative of the bottom feeding” Republican Party of President Donald Trump and RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.
Also via Twitter, Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan wrote, "Do better, @GOP. Be better."
One of the newest entrants into the Democratic Party’s crowded field of 2020 presidential candidates, O’Rourke is widely viewed as one of the more charismatic potential challengers to Trump. O’Rourke has already gone head-to-head with Trump, staging a counterdemonstration to the president’s Feb. 11 visit to his hometown of El Paso, Texas.
There, Trump called him “a young man who has very little going for himself except he has a great first name.”
Upon O’Rourke’s entry into the presidential race, Trump poked fun at his announcement video, telling reporters at the White House: “I think he’s got a lot of hand movement. I said, ‘Is he crazy, or is that just the way he acts?’”
In an exclusive interview with the El Paso Times of the USA TODAY Network ahead of his official presidential announcement, O’Rourke made clear his opinion of Trump’s presidency.
“I'm not running against, I’m running for. Running for this country. And I’ve always been that way. Everything I do in my life,” O'Rourke said. “There’s no one in this (Democratic) race that I don't think would be a better president than Donald Trump.”
O’Rourke was a failed Member of Congress w/ a far-left liberal record:— GOP (@GOP) March 17, 2019
*voted w/ Nancy Pelosi 94% of the time
*only passed one bill—renaming a courthouse
*supports the $93 trillion Green New Deal
*voted against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which added 362,200 jobs to his home state
O’Rourke rose to national prominence last year during a contentious U.S. Senate race against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz, whom Trump cast aside in his winning 2016 presidential bid. O’Rourke lost by less than 3 percentage points, a stunningly strong finish for a Democrat in the deep red Lone Star State, based on recent polling data.
O’Rourke has said his drunken-driving arrest was a “serious mistake.” Police reports said O’Rourke, then 26, was driving drunk in a 75 mph speed zone when he lost control of his vehicle and hit a truck.
The charge was dismissed in 1999 after O’Rourke completed a court-recommended DWI program.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: GOP uses Beto O'Rourke's 1998 mug shot in St. Paddy's Day Twitter attack