Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke will begin his first trip to California as a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination by holding a rally at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College Saturday.
“I am traveling to towns and cities across America to introduce myself and hear from people like you about the ways we can move this country forward,” O’Rourke wrote on his campaign’s website, betoorourke.com.
Doors are set to open at 4 p.m. with the rally beginning at 5 p.m. People interested in attending are asked to RSVP at act.betoorourke.com/event/beto-events/31455.
O’Rourke is also set to speak in San Francisco on Sunday and San Diego on Tuesday, after campaigning in the early voting state of Nevada on Thursday and Friday.
O’Rourke declared his candidacy March 14, four months after saying in an interview on MSNBC, “I will not be a candidate for president in 2020. That’s, I think, as definitive as those sentences get.”
In a three-minute, 25-second video sent to supporters declaring his candidacy, the 46-year-old O’Rourke said, “This is a defining moment of truth for this country and for every single one of us.
“The challenges that we face right now, the interconnected crises in our economy, our democracy and our climate have never been greater and they will either consume us, or they will afford us the greatest opportunity to unleash the genius of the United States of America.
“We can begin by fixing our democracy and ensuring that our government works for everyone and not just for corporations. We can invest in the dignity of those who work and those who seek to work.
“We can ensure that every single American can see a doctor and be well enough to live to their full potential. And all of us, wherever you live, can acknowledge that if immigration is a problem, it’s the best possible problem for this country to have, and we should ensure that there are lawful paths to work, to be with family and to flee persecution.”
O’Rourke also promised to “listen to, and lift up rural America,” “work on real justice reform, and confront the hard truths of slavery, and segregation and suppression in these United States of America,” and “reassert our global leadership and end these decades-long wars, and be there for every woman and man who’ve served in them.”
In response to O’Rourke’s declaration, Republican National Committee Communications Director Michael Ahrens said, “Beto O’Rourke failed to get anything done in Congress, and with extreme policies like government-run health care and tearing down border barriers, his 2020 bid won’t be successful either.”
O’Rourke was a three-term congressman from the El Paso area who gained nationwide prominence for his unsuccessful challenge of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in 2018, receiving more votes than any Democrat in Texas.
Born Robert Francis O’Rourke on Sept. 26, 1972, in El Paso, O’Rourke’s Irish American family gave him the nickname “Beto” while he was an infant, initially to distinguish him from his grandfather, Robert V. Williams.
Beto is a common Spanish nickname for first names ending in “berto.”
O’Rourke received a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in 1995, majoring in English literature.
O’Rourke began his political career in 2005, when he defeated a two-term incumbent to win a seat on the El Paso City Council. He served on the council through 2011.
O’Rourke defeated eight-term incumbent Rep. Silvestre Reyes in a primary in 2012 and won the general election race in the predominantly Democratic district by more than 30 percentage points.
If elected, O’Rourke would be the first president born in the 1970s and the second Roman Catholic, joining John F. Kennedy.
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