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Sunday, November 17, 2019

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Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke speaks at TSU rally


Hundreds of people appeared at Beto O’Rourke’s rally to support the El Paso native and presidential hopeful. | Corbin Ayres/The Cougar

Beto O’Rourke officially launched his 2020 presidential campaign with three rallies in Texas, one of which was held Saturday at Texas Southern University.

Despite the rainy weather, a few hundred Houstonians welcomed O’Rourke outside of the Martin Luther King Humanities Center, a few steps away from where another 2020 presidential candidate, Kamala Harris, held her rally one week before. The crowd chanted the presidential hopeful’s name while waving American flags and signs that read “Viva Beto” as he made his way toward the stage.

“It is a huge honor for us to be back here with you in this community that means so much to us personally,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke, who sported a TSU baseball cap, immediately started talking about his viewpoints of different topics Americans are facing today. He spent most of the rally laying out his general ideas.

He touched on the importance of all levels of education, climate change and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. He also briefly spoke about his support for more gun control, universal healthcare, the legalization of marijuana and prison reform. He maintained themes of growing the middle class and creating equal opportunity for all Americans despite their various backgrounds.

Last November, O’Rourke lost the Texas Senate election to the incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz by a margin of less than 3 percent. Despite this loss, the El Paso native praised Texas for its high voter turnout, but he also said the voting system needed a change.

“Here’s what we need,” O’Rourke said, pausing between cheers. “A new voting rights act signed into law so that every single one of us can vote.”

O’Rourke said he will work to rid the voting system of any gerrymandering in the state.

“We’re going to end the practice of members of Congress choosing their voters,” he said.

Political science freshman Lorena Ortiz said there is no doubt in her mind she would vote for O’Rourke in the next presidential election.

“My main reasoning would be his ideas about gun control,” Ortiz said.

One topic Ortiz said she wants to hear O’Rourke speak more about is his plans for lowering the costs of higher education.

“I would like to hear more about how he would bring the student loan debt down,” Ortiz said. “Like he said today, it is one of the highest debts for people in the country, so I would really like to hear his exact plan.”

Public health senior Krista Ochoa, who also said she would vote for O’Rourke in the next presidential election, said her favorite part of the rally was seeing a diverse crowd come together.

“Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the nation,” Ochoa said. “To see that at this rally was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.”

Ochoa also said she likes O’Rourke because he is genuine and cares about the issues Americans are facing, and he hit every topic she wanted to hear him talk about at the rally.

“To see a good-hearted person in politics gives me a little hope,” Ochoa said. “Instead of pushing an agenda filled with hate and malice out into the world, he does the exact opposite of that.”

With people still chanting and waving their American flags, O’Rourke made a promise to the Houston crowd.

“We’re going to make sure that we meet every single one of our aspirations, not by half measure, and not by half the country,” O’Rourke said. “It won’t be Democrats versus Republicans, big cities versus small towns — at this very divided, highly polarized, hyper-partisan moment, what this country needs is for us to come together.”

O’Rourke, who has said he will not use any PAC donations and is against special interest groups, announced his run for the 2020 presidential election at the beginning of March. His rally stops in Texas included El Paso, Houston and Austin.

O’Rourke ended the rally by reinforcing his message of patriotism.

“Before we are anything else, we are Americans first,” O’Rourke said.

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