O’Rourke starts run with hometown rally
EL PASO, Texas – Beto O’Rourke focused heavily Saturday on a Texas narrative he’s used to rise from El Paso council member to Senate candidate to Democratic presidential candidate.
O’Rourke, at a rally in his hometown, hoped to draw a stark contrast with President Trump, telling Americans that the nation can do better on many fronts, including developing a compassionate immigration system that secures the border, implementing criminal justice reform – including marijuana legalization – and paying workers a fair wage and helping them get affordable health care.
“This is a campaign for America, for everyone in America,” he said. “This is our moment of truth, and we cannot be found wanting.”
El Paso is not just his hometown, but also a symbol of his message: “We are safe. Not despite the fact that we are a city of immigrants and asylum seekers. We are safe because we are a city of immigrants and asylum seekers.”
Given that El Paso is a border community O’Rourke calls one of the safest cities in America, and that Texas has the most uninsured residents in the nation, he considers himself uniquely qualified to be the party’s standard-bearer and warrior against the formidable Trump.
Some Democrats say O’Rourke’s Texas ties make him the ideal candidate.
“Trump’s message is, be afraid of immigrants,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who worked with O’Rourke on a voter turnout plan for North Texas last year. “In Texas, everybody sees the issue differently. People actually want to hear solutions to these issues from somebody who knows what the border is like. He’s a credible voice for the reality of what the future of America can look like.”
Before Saturday’s rally, the Republican National Committee slammed O’Rourke for his positions on abortion and climate change, and for what they called a lack of policy proposals. But the biggest criticism came over the border.
“Beto O’Rourke kicks off his campaign today with zero awareness of the crisis our nation faces at our southern border, continuing to advocate for no barriers, said Christiana Purves, a spokeswoman for the Republican committee. “Texans deserve better than a leader who would increase the flow of drugs and crime by weakening our border security.”