WATCH: Trump and Fox News Have Been Calling Beto O’Rourke ‘Robert Francis’ For Months
Trump spokesman Hogan Gidley suggested that Fox News anchors refer to newly-announced 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke as “Robert Francis O’Rourke” on Thursday, but it turns out that Fox News has been following that advice for several months now.
On Thursday morning’s edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, co-anchor Bill Hemmer asked Gidley what Trump thinks of O’Rourke’s entry into the race, and Gidley “cleverly” “corrected” Hemmer by telling him “you pronounced it wrong, it’s Robert Francis.”
Later in the interview, Hemmer asked Gidley if Trump will adopt the moniker for O’Rourke during the campaign, and Gidley replied “Well, he has called him that before on the campaign trail, and why wouldn’t he, that’s his name.”
O’Rourke has gone by the name “Beto” — a common nickname for “Roberto” in O’Rourke’s native El Paso — since infancy, but conservatives have tried to make the name an issue in order to hammer home the point that O’Rourke is not Hispanic.
In fact, conservatives in Fox News have already been doing so for months. Gidley is correct that Trump deployed the name while campaigning for Ted Cruz, telling the crowd at an October 22, 2018 rally that “Ted’s opponent in this race is a stone-cold phony named Robert Francis O’Rourke, sometimes referred to as Beto.”
But several days before that, Fox News contributor Karl Rove told anchor Shannon Bream that “Robert Francis O’Rourke is a very liberal guy,” starting a trend that would continue on Fox News until this very day.
The day after Trump rolled out the name, Laura Ingraham told Sean Hannity “It’s Robert Francis O’Rourke, I know ‘Beto’ sounds cooler, but it’s Robert Francis,” to which Hannity replied “I like Bozo.”
Rove repeated the line so frequently that Fox contributor Marie Harf joked about it during one show, but plenty of others got in on the name game. They include Fox & Friends host Pete Hegseth, RNC spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, Gidley again in February, and Trump campaign official Marc Lotter.
Several minutes before Gidley’s appearance Thursday morning, Lotter drew laughs from straight news anchor Bill Hemmer by wishing “Robert Francis O’Rourke a Happy St. Patrick’s Day,” which Hemmer observed “sounds like a Trump tweet.”
Watch the clips above, via Fox News.