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Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke addressed a party at the Hilton Richmond Hotel & Spa in Short Pump on April 16.

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke will make a campaign swing through Virginia later this week with stops in key college towns Charlottesville and Blacksburg focused on what his campaign called President Donald Trump’s “recklessness and racism.”

O’Rourke will make a stop Friday in Blacksburg, where he’s planning to hold a town hall at Virginia Tech. Also Friday, O’Rourke will host a meet-and-greet with the Bland County Democrats. On Saturday, O’Rourke will be in Charlottesville, the site of a 2017 white supremacist rally that left one dead and others injured. Details about where and when O’Rourke will appear have not been shared.

Amid a crowded Democratic field of contenders where he has struggled to gain momentum, the former congressman from Texas has vowed to refocus his campaign on Trump following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas — his hometown — and Dayton, Ohio. O’Rourke has blamed Trump’s language and policies for inciting violence.

Virginia’s presidential primary will be March 3, 2020 — Super Tuesday.

In April, O’Rourke became the first candidate in the Democratic primary to campaign in Virginia with a nine-stop tour through the state. As a teenager O’Rourke attended Woodberry Forest School, a boarding school in Madison County.

“It’s not just that he’s partisan, it’s not just that he is divisive. He’s hateful. He’s racist. He is encouraging the worst tendencies,” O’Rourke said of Trump during an event in Williamsburg. “Unless we defeat him in November of 2020, it will continue.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden brought a similar message to Virginia during a campaign fundraiser Tuesday in Richmond. Speaking at The Boathouse in Rocketts Landing, Biden said the events in Charlottesville prompted his run .

“I never thought I’d see something like that again in my life. That’s when I decided,” Biden said, adding that Trump’s attempt to “deliberately divide the nation, to maintain power, is dangerous.”

An Emerson University poll conducted between Saturday and Monday showed Biden leading his Democratic rivals with 31% of respondents, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (24%), Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (15%), and Sen. Kamala Harris of California (10%). O’Rourke drew 2% support in that poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Two other 2020 Democratic contenders — Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. — spoke at the Democratic Party of Virginia’s fundraising dinner in June.

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mleonor@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6254

Twitter: @MelLeonor_

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