Democrat Beto O’Rourke officially kicks off presidential campaign in Texas – National


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EL PASO, Texas — Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke declared that immigrants make the nation safer as he staged rallies throughout Texas on Saturday to formally kick off his 2020 White Home bid, trying to shore up his deeply conservative house state and champion the U.S.-Mexico border at a time when President Donald Trump has threatened to close it.

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The previous congressman, who represented El Paso for 3 Home phrases till final yr, started the day addressing 1,000-plus supporters in his hometown, throughout the border from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. He was holding an occasion at traditionally black Texas Southern College in Houston later, earlier than heading to Austin for a 3rd rally within the shadow of the red-granite state Capitol.

Bounding on a makeshift stage in a blue-button right down to “Clampdown” by The Conflict, O’Rourke declared: “We’re secure, not even if we’re a metropolis of immigrants and asylum seekers. We’re secure as a result of we’re a metropolis of immigrants and asylum seekers.”

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“We’ve realized to not worry our variations, however to respect and embrace them,” he advised a crowd that waved small American flags and black-and-white indicators studying “Viva Beto” whereas usually interrupting their candidate to chant his first title.

In a sequence of tweets Friday, Trump warned he may shut the nation’s southern border subsequent week “if Mexico doesn’t instantly cease ALL unlawful immigration coming into america.” In later feedback to reporters he added: “We’ll maintain it closed for a very long time. I’m not enjoying video games.”

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O’Rourke has made selling the U.S.-Mexico border as culturally wealthy and economically highly effective the centerpiece of his marketing campaign and spoke on a downtown avenue nook a couple of blocks from the border.

He decried officers’ choice to carry asylum seekers who’ve crossed into america in cages beneath El Paso’s worldwide bridges, saying these detainees “are our fellow human beings and should be handled as our fellow human beings.”

O’Rourke entered the race March 14 and already has visited 9 states, however had promised to return to El Paso for an official kickoff.

WATCH: Trump says they may shut border if Mexico doesn’t cease caravans

As he has beforehand, he renewed calls to work with Republicans and Democrats, saying “earlier than anything, we’re People first” and prompting chants of “USA! USA!” However he additionally made bolder predictions than previously, saying that if his marketing campaign can deliver folks from throughout the ideological spectrum collectively he can prime the remainder of the crowded Democratic 2020 presidential discipline and “defeat Donald Trump in November.”

A small however vocal group of Trump supporters had different concepts, gathering a couple of blocks away from the occasion to shout anti-O’Rourke sentiments for hours.

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O’Rourke represented El Paso in Congress for six years, however gave up his seat whereas almost upsetting Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in November. The Democrat who changed him within the Home, Rep. Veronica Escobar, welcomed these available to the “stunning, magical, secure and safe U.S.-Mexico border,” including, “When the border sends America her folks, we’re sending them our greatest in Beto O’Rourke.”

Amy O’Rourke, who has largely averted the highlight since her husband started operating for president, gave a brief speech too, telling the gang, “Listening to folks is what offers Beto energy. It fuels him and it offers him context (with) which he can take into consideration insurance policies and the issues he needs to do for this nice nation.”

WATCH: Donald Trump threatens to shut U.S.-Mexico border

Regardless of such nods to bipartisanism, nonetheless, O’Rourke provided many positions Saturday that had been liberal sufficient to make moderates nervous. He vowed to legalize marijuana nationally, defend abortion rights, signal new voting rights laws to finish partisan gerrymandering and permit same-day voter registration, institute federally financed, common pre-kindergarten packages, strengthen unions and convey house all troops from the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He additionally renewed his assist for a Home proposal known as “Medicare for America,” which he says will assure common well being care protection whereas permitting individuals who like getting insurance coverage by means of their employer to proceed doing so.

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Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat to statewide workplace in 25 years. However O’Rourke got here inside three proportion factors of topping Cruz, and nationwide Democrats are hoping that its booming Hispanic inhabitants and huge numbers of recent residents transferring in from different states may maintain Texas shut in 2020 — doubtlessly reshaping the electoral faculty. California Sen. Kamala Harris dew a big crowd final weekend when she too visited Texas Southern College.

“This state and its 38 electoral votes rely like they’ve by no means counted earlier than,” O’Rourke mentioned Saturday. “All of us matter.”

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