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2020 contender Beto O'Rourke told NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that he refuses to "even acknowledge the politics or the polling" on guns.

  • "I think this just shows you how screwed up the priorities in Washington, D.C., are," O'Rourke told host Chuck Todd.

TODD: [Sen]. Patt Toomey tweeted the following: I agree with Chris Coons. This is an awful and extreme idea. Thankfully there's not enough support in Congress to do it. But this rhetoric undermines and hurts bipartisan efforts to actually make progress on common sense gun safety efforts like expanding background checks. He went on the record, Congressman. A few other Democrats have gone with blind quotes. There's a lot of hand wringing about what you said. Agreeing with your sentiment, but concerned that the rhetoric is going to actually backfire. What do you say?

O'ROURKE: I think this just shows you how screwed up the priorities in Washington, D.C., are. I think what's truly awful is a 17-month-old baby shot in the face with an AR-15, as happened in Odessa. What's truly awful is 22 people killed in a Walmart the Saturday before school starts that next Monday, buying their school supplies. Innocent of any crime or any threat to this country. In fact, living in one of the safest cities in America: El Paso, Texas. Hunted down by their ethnicity with a weapon that was designed for use on a battlefield. Talking to those doctors and trauma room surgeons who treated those victims in El Paso, they said these are wounds of war. That high-impact, high-velocity round when it hit their systems just shredded everything inside of them. I refuse to accept that, and I refuse to even acknowledge the politics or the polling, or the fear, or the NRA that has purchased the complicity and the silence of members of Congress, and its weak response to a real tragedy in America. 40,000 gun deaths a year, we've got to do something about it, and I'm proposing that we do something about it.

The big picture: At Thursday's debate, O'Rourke exclaimed: "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47." Some fellow Democrats are concerned that the comment reflects rhetoric from many conservatives who've long said liberals simply want to take guns away.

  • O'Rourke has made gun control the central issue of his campaign following a mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, that left 22 dead.

Go deeper: 5 takeaways from the third Democratic debate

Go deeper

Scoop: Leaked Ukraine memo reveals scope of Russia's aggression

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits a military exposition in Sevastopol, Crimea, in Jan. 2020. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russia has been holding last-minute military exercises near commercial shipping lanes in the Black Sea that threaten to strangle Ukraine's economy, according to an internal document from Ukraine's ministry of defense reviewed by Axios.

Why it matters: With the eyes of the world on the massive buildup of troops in eastern Ukraine, the leaked memo shows Russian forces escalating their presence on all sides of the Ukrainian border.

Read: Former Vice President Walter Mondale's last message

Photo courtesy of Mondale.

Former Vice President Walter Mondale wrote a farewell letter to his staff, sent upon his death on Monday, thanking them for years working together.

Dear Team,

Well my time has come. I am eager to rejoin Joan and Eleanor. Before I Go I wanted to let you know how much you mean to me. Never has a public servant had a better group of people working at their side!

Together we have accomplished so much and I know you will keep up the good fight.

Joe in the White House certainly helps.

I always knew it would be okay if I arrived some place and was greeted by one of you!

My best to all of you!

Fritz

Former Vice President Walter Mondale dies at 93

Walter Mondale, left, with former President Jimmy Carter in Jan. 2018 at the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota's campus in Minneapolis. Photo: Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Walter Mondale, who transformed the role of U.S. vice president while serving under Jimmy Carter and was the Democratic nominee for president in 1984, died Monday at 93, according to a family spokesperson.

The big picture: President Biden, who was mentored by Mondale through the years, said in 2015 that the former vice president gave him a "roadmap" to successfully take on the job.