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Acknowledging that he is joining a large, boisterous crowd of what he termed “so many amazing candidates running for president right now,” former Texas congressman and 2018 Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke became the latest contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Although he is one of a dozen or so Democrats in the race, O’Rourke was given something close to rock star treatment as he kicked off his nascent bid for the White House with an appearance in Keokuk, Iowa, which was carried live on television.
O’Rourke, who raised a large war-chest in his 2018 contest against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), ultimately lost that race but came closer than any Democrat in decades in winning a statewide election in the Lone Star State.
Since that performance, O’Rourke had been strongly encouraged by supporters nationwide to make the 2020 presidential race.
O’Rourke emphasized that he wanted a positive-oriented campaign, and sketched out just a handful of issues, including access to quality healthcare, addressing climate change, reproductive rights for women, potential Supreme Court reform and broadband access for all.
“This setting right now, the very first event of our campaign for president is an example not only of the way that I wish to campaign across this country for every single American, and I could care less your party persuasion, your religion, anything other than the fact that right now we are all Americans and we are all human beings,” O’Rourke said. “And we do everything within our power for one another, for this great country and for every generation that follows. …
“The government is all of us. That we hold each other accountable not just for what we promise and that what we enact or fail to enact but how we conduct ourselves on the campaign trail. Critically important that we not denigrate, or demean any other candidate. We don’t talk about their personal lives,” O’Rourke said to applause. “Any single Democrat running today — and I may not be able to enumerate every single one of them right now — would be far better than the current occupant of the White House.”
O’Rourke, in particular, generated attention from both the political press, and some late-night comedians for his mention of the Tinder dating app during his remarks on broadband access.
“In Texas, we have a problem with broadband in rural communities. You may have that in Iowa as well where farmers and ranchers and producers literally cannot get online, where people cannot start businesses in their hometown or finish their education after high school because they can’t get online,” O’Rourke said. “They can’t go to Tinder and find a date tonight to find that special person who is going to make the difference in their lives. I want to make sure every American has that opportunity.”
For instance, O’Rourke’s Tinder remark seemed to leave MSNBC reporter Garrett Haake absolutely giddy.
“He got asked a question about rural broadband. This is, like, the least sexy issue of all time for most people across the country,” Haake said. “But when he answered this question, he cracked a joke kind of on the side, well, if we can’t get this done, people won’t have Tinder to meet the love of their life. It was just a throwaway line, but do you think Donald Trump or Joe Biden can make a reference to a dating app in a stump speech? It was just one of those little, tiny moments that caught my attention. And I think that will be the kind of thing we’ll see play out if you get into a Beto/Biden kind of showdown later down the road.”