Beto O’Rourke Announces Presidential Run, Calling Immigration the “Best Possible Problem for this Country to Have”

After months of speculation following his narrow loss to Texas Senator Ted Cruz in midterm elections, El Paso native Beto O’Rourke has finally taken up a bid for president. He announced his candidacy on Thursday morning, when he kicked off a three-day tour of Iowa.

Connecting at a personal level with the electorate through a message of promise and hope is what powered his senatorial campaign, and he’s expected to carry this through in his presidential run. “I don’t ever prepare a speech,” he told Vanity Fair in a cover story released this week. He described walking into one of his first senate campaign events wondering what he’d do or say. “I got in there, and I don’t know if it’s a speech or not, but it felt amazing. Because every word was pulled out of me. Like, by some greater force, which was just the people there.”

The Beto O’Rourke campaign has avoided following traditional conventions, eschewing pollsters and presenting a seemingly unedited version of his personal life and journey through social media. Though he has rejected being labeled a “progressive,” he has taken decidedly progressive positions on issues like immigration and climate change, some of the most pressing national issues of the moment. He supports the removal of the border wall on his home turf of El Paso — prior to 9/11, his city had not had a border wall — and has always expressed solidarity with his neighbors across the southern border. “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,’’ he said in his Thursday video announcement.

As for the Green New Deal, at one of his first stops in Iowa, he unequivocally shared his belief that there isn’t “anything better that addresses this singular crisis we face — a crisis that could, at its worst, lead to extinction.” He has expressed his admiration with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for the work she has put into being a member of congress and an agent for change. “She does not seem to me to be afraid of making a mistake, or not saying it perfectly,” he told Vanity Fair. “And in the process says the most important — I think some of the most important — things anyone can be talking about right now, and she’s freed herself from fear.”

Recognizing that he faces a diverse and strong group of Democratic candidates in this presidential race, O’Rourke has pledged to build an inclusive administration that actually represents the country. He also has intentionally spoken to constituents that feel they have been overlooked or forgotten with messaging that appeals to the concerns of all Americans: “Making sure that everybody can see a doctor and live to their full potential. 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 — that they’re equipped with the skills and training and education necessary to maximize their potential. But also investing in people that are already working… There are so many people in this country working two and three jobs and struggling to make ends meet.”

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