Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke on Thursday equated support for former Vice President Joe Biden — who leads the field in current polling — with a vote for a bygone era, rather than bold leadership on issues like climate change and immigration.
“I understand the nostalgia around the vice president’s candidacy,” O’Rourke told PBS NewsHourmanaging editor and anchor Judy Woodruff in an interview. “We’ve got to look boldly to the future of this country.” He added, “half steps, half measures or only half the country will not get the job done.”
In his losing bid to unseat Texas Sen. Ted Cruz last November, the former Texas congressman pledged to run a positive campaign. This time, O’Rourke acknowledges the path to victory is much harder, with over 20 candidates vying for the Democratic Party nomination, including the former vice president, who has amassed a significant lead. To win, O’Rourke said, “We’ll have to go far beyond anything that I’ve been a part of before.”
O’Rourke dismissed the notion that his White House run has so far failed to capture the public interest that propelled his Senate campaign. “[At] the outset of any race that I’ve run, no poll would have predicted our performance,” he said.
The Texas Democrat is known for his “eyeball to eyeball” campaigning style and commitment to taking questions at every public event, a strategy he’s counting on to eventually convince voters that he’s the right contender to take on President Donald Trump. “I think that we will win this nomination one community, one voter, one caucus goer at a time,” O’Rourke said.
Other highlights from the interview
- On Iran: O’Rourke accused the Trump administration of” gunning for war in Iran.” Hours earlier, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shared an U.S. intelligence assessment that blamed Iran for a second tanker strike in the Gulf of Oman. O’Rourke suggested that American conflicts with Iran can and should be resolved peacefully and diplomatically with help from allies. “I want to make sure that we rejoin our partners, our friends and alliances that this president has turned his back on so that we can achieve our foreign policy goals in the Middle East, with Iran and throughout the rest of the world,” he said.
- On climate change: O’Rourke unveiled new details of his $5-trillion plan to reach a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions standard by 2050, admitting that getting there may require implementing a carbon tax. “We might have to do that,” he said, “in order for us to meet those absolute caps on emissions..”