On the Campaign Trail, Beto O’Rourke Focuses on Meeting Primary Voters over Media Appearances

June 14, 2019 by TWN Staff
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke speaks at the National Forum on Wages and Working People: Creating an Economy That Works for All at Enclave on April 27, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images/TNS) *FOR USE WITH THIS STORY ONLY*

Candidate: Beto O’Rourke

State of Residence: Texas

Campaign Website: https://betoorourke.com

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke speaks at the National Forum on Wages and Working People: Creating an Economy That Works for All at Enclave on April 27, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images/TNS)

Short Bio: Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke (born September 26, 1972) is an American businessman, musician, and politician who represented Texas’ 16th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2013 to 2019.

O’Rourke was born into a local political family in El Paso, Texas and is a graduate of Woodberry Forrest School and Columbia University. While studying at Columbia, O’Rourke began a brief music career as bass guitarist in the post-hardcore band Foss. After his college graduation, he returned to El Paso and began a business career. In 2005, he was elected to the El Paso City Council, serving on it until 2011. O’Rourke was elected to the U.S. House in 2012 after defeating eight-term incumbent Silvestre Reyes in the Democratic primary.

After being re-elected to the House in 2014 and 2016, O’Rourke declined to seek re-election in 2018. Instead, he ran for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz, running a competitive campaign that drew national attention. O’Rourke was defeated 50.9% to 48.3%. On March 14, 2019, O’Rourke announced his campaign for President of the United States in the 2020 United States presidential election.

Fun Fact: As a teenager, O’Rourke was a member of the computer hacker group Cult of the Dead Cow under the nickname “Psychedelic Warlord.”

On the Issues

Health Care: “So if we believe in universal, guaranteed, high quality healthcare – because we see the consequences to our fellow Americans who go without – then let us come together around a policy that prioritizes affordability of prescription drugs, lowers the costs of premiums and ensures that in a country where one of the largest providers of mental health care services is our county jail system, a country where we have a maternal mortality crisis that is 3x as deadly for women of color — that universal healthcare means everyone gets primary healthcare, mental healthcare — and universal also means every woman makes her own decisions about her own body.

“We can give every American and every business the choice to enroll in Medicare without eliminating plans that many Americans like for their families because they work for their families. This means every one of us is able to afford our prescriptions, see a doctor, take our children to a therapist. No one priced out. No one denied care. No one left behind. The goal of universal, guaranteed high-quality health care must be achieved as quickly and as surely as possible.” [betoorourke.com]

Trade & Agriculture: Like many of the Democratic candidates, Mr. O’Rourke has criticized Mr. Trump’s trade policies, including the imposition of tariffs, which have hurt some farmers and blue-collar workers. In his Senate campaign, he emphasized the needs of farmers, calling for a stronger crop insurance program and federal investments in rural infrastructure, including high-speed internet, roads and schools.

He has also drawn connections between agricultural policy and immigration policy, noting that immigrants — many of them undocumented — make up a large share of farm laborers. On that basis, he has cast immigration reform as an economic issue as well as a social one.

“We should treat these individuals with dignity and respect,” he wrote on his website last year, “because they are a critical component of our agriculture communities.” [New York Times]

Jobs/Economy/Taxes: Supports increasing minimum wage to $15 per hour. He has derided business tax cuts and opposed the GOP tax overhaul of 2017. O’Rourke voted in favor of an oil tax in 2016 that would have taxed $10 on every barrel of crude oil. [Axios]

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