Watch the moment O’Rourke announces his presidential run in the video below.
Video credit: ABC News
Beto O’Rourke has entered the 2020 presidential race after making an announcement on Thursday in which he called for everyone to forego their differences so as to confront the challenges that face the country.
“You’ll see us run the largest grassroots campaign this country has ever seen. It’s the only way to win. It’s the only way to effectively govern,” O’Rourke, who is starting a three-day swing through eastern Iowa, told reporters during his first campaign event at a coffee shop in Keokuk, Iowa.
The 46-year-old Democrat announced his presidential run with a video released on Thursday morning.
“This is a defining moment of truth for this country and for every single one of us,” O’Rourke said in the video. “The challenges that we face right now, the interconnected crises in our economy, our democracy and our climate have never been greater.”
“They will either consume us, or they will afford us the greatest opportunity to unleash the genius of the United States of America,” he said.
O’Rourke, the former congressman from Texas, will be having a kick-off rally in El Paso, Texas, on March 30.
He plans to keep his campaign headquarters in El Paso because “it’s my hometown and it’s where I want to be,” he told CNN.
O’Rourke, who joins around a dozen Democrats striving for the party’s nomination, began his Iowa trip in the rural southeastern corner of the state, promising the crowds to address the issues of those who believe they’ve been neglected in recent elections.
His short speech at the coffee shop in Keokuk centered around immigration and climate change.
He said he didn’t view the immigration at the Southern border to be a problem, before adding how climate change is a huge threat which could potentially lead to a “crisis of a different magnitude altogether.”
While responding to the questions from the audience, he praised the Green New Deal proposal, saying he hasn’t “seen anything better that addresses this singular crisis we face — a crisis that could, at its worst, lead to extinction.”
He said Texas farmers, as well as other people in rural areas, still lack proper internet access. “They can’t go on Tinder to find that special date tonight,” he said.
Talking about incarceration rates, he pointed to racial discrimination, saying that those in prison “don’t look like people in this room. They are browner and blacker.”
O’Rourke, who has served three terms in the House, also said how he’d end the federal prohibition of marijuana.
When the reporters asked him about what differentiates him from other Democratic presidential candidates, he said he won’t criticize anyone.
“I have a profoundly positive story to tell that as a nation of immigrants, we should remind ourselves that our success, our strength and yes, our safety and security, depend on the fact that we are a city of immigrants in El Paso, a nation of immigrants across this country,” he added.
Last year, O’Rourke lost a Senate race in Texas to Republican Ted Cruz. However, the race thrust him into the national spotlight.
O’Rourke ended with an $80 million haul, shattering all fundraising records, and finished less than three percentage points behind Ted Cruz.
O’Rourke’s closer-than-expected finish was remarkable because Texas has long been a Republican stronghold.
He told reporters on Thursday that his defeat helped Democrats shift Texas into competitive territory for the 2020 election.
“I think I was able to show by going to every single county that we will leave no one behind, that no one will be forgotten, that every single one of us as an American and as a human being is important, and we will pay the respect necessary to show that and ensure that,” he said.
For O’Rourke, the 2020 campaign has “got to be about the big things that we hope to achieve and enact and do for one another,” he told CNN.
He said that “the most pressing, the most urgent, the most existential challenge of them all is climate.
“And the scientists, beyond a shadow of a doubt, know that we have at a maximum 12 years in order to enact significant change to meet that threat and reduce the consequences of the decisions that we made in the past — the consequences that our kids and the generations that follow will bear.”
When asked about his top priorities, O’Rourke provided a basic layout.
“Rewriting and signing into law immigration policies that reflect who we are and our values and what we know to be true, grounded in the facts,” he said.
“Making sure that everybody can see a doctor and live to their full potential,” he added. “Listening to and then raising up rural communities that for so long have been left behind. Making sure people that are looking for work are able to find it.”
“Pete Davidson’s First Impressions of Midterm Election Candidates – SNL”