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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

Supreme Court rejects second GOP effort to cut absentee ballot deadline in N.C.

Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

The Supreme Court, for the second time in two days, rejected a GOP request to shorten the deadline mail-in ballots must be received by North Carolina officials to be counted.

The state of play: The state's deadline had been extended from 3 days to 9 days post-Election Day.

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Axios Re:Cap digs into the state of global vaccine development — including why the U.S. and China seem to going at it alone — with medicinal chemist and biotech blogger Derek Lowe.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases — Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave.
  4. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.