Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke flew to prominence after he gave a viral answer on how people should respond to National Anthem protests. People on Left were smitten and wanted to see more from the young, hip Democrat who pulled Independent voters.
What could he do? How much further could he go in the political realm?
Despite narrowly losing to Ted Cruz in Texas’ senatorial race the former Texas congressman recently announced that he would be seeking even higher office: the White House.
O’Rourke kickstarted the campaign by breaking a major promise to voters that he would not run in the first place—that he repeated time and again.
Now, Business Insider reports O’Rourke is being forced to apologize to his supporters once more:
During a taping of the “Political Party Live” podcast in Cedar Rapids, he addressed criticism of his campaign-trail joke that his wife, Amy, has raised their three kids “sometimes with my help.” O’Rourke made the comment at multiple campaign stops during his first swing through Iowa, including earlier Friday, eliciting laughs each time, but he also drew criticism as being insensitive to the challenges faced by single parents raising children.
O’Rourke said the criticism of his “ham-handed” attempt to highlight his wife’s work in their marriage was “right on.”
O’Rourke, 46, also said he was “mortified” when he reread the violent fiction he wrote as a teen, which received fresh attention Friday after a Reuters report outlined his involvement in a hacker group as a teen. O’Rourke wrote a handful of posts on the group’s message board under the name “Psychedelic Warlord,” including a fictional piece he penned when he was 15 about children getting run over by a car.
O’Rourke said he was apologetic of his younger self and that he was looking forward to doing and being a better person.
“I’m mortified to read it now, incredibly embarrassed, but I have to take ownership of my words,” he said. “Whatever my intention was as a teenager doesn’t matter, I have to look long and hard at my actions, at the language I have used, and I have to constantly try to do better.”
“It’s not anything I’m proud of today, and I mean, that’s — that’s the long and short of it,” he added. “All I can do is my best, which is what I’m trying to do. I can’t control anything I’ve done in the past. I can only control what I do going forward and what I plan to do is give this my best.”
The former Texas congressman entered the 2020 presidential race Thursday after months of speculation. He raised an eye-popping $80 million in grassroots donations last year in his failed U.S. Senate race in Texas against Republican Ted Cruz, all while largely avoiding money from political action committees. His early fundraising numbers will be an initial signal of whether his popularity during the Senate campaign will carry over to his White House bid.
So far, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has set the pace for grassroots donations in 2020, pulling in $6 million during his first day as a candidate.
Asked if he thought he would top Sanders, O’Rourke said only, “We’ll see.”