“What’s at stake in 2020 is a choice between civics and socialism,” he said Monday at the Millard airport, outside of Omaha, where he was introduced by a string of state GOP leaders.

Sasse described a country facing a “civic crisis,” characterized by the opioid epidemic and the “rise in socialism of people under the age of 35.” He also described the weekend mass shootings in Texas and Ohio as symptoms of the same crisis.

Those events, he said, were attributable to “surging racial hatred online, people willing to kill because they don’t understand the American idea” and to “fatherlessness” that “drives so many people to become lone rangers and killers.”