By Jonathan Allen and Garrett Haake
Beto O’Rourke is asking for a second chance to make a first impression.
After a rocky rollout — punctuated by a Vanity Fair profile in which he was quoted saying he was “born” to be in the 2020 presidential race — the former Texas congressman imposed on himself a period of major-media and fundraising abstinence while he held scores of town hall meetings in early caucus and primary states.
It didn’t seem to help. Dismissing him as thin on substance, The New Republic mocked his “profound emptiness” and Politico concluded that he had “a long history of failing upward.” He’s watched his national poll numbers dwindle — from a high of 12 percent in a Quinnipiac survey in late March to 5 percent in the same survey a month later — and he’s been at 3 percent in several other recent polls.
But with a round of national TV interviews, fresh additions to his campaign team and a more substantial platform beginning to take shape, O’Rourke will now be watched closely by Democratic insiders to see if his soft re-launch — Beto 2.0 — can propel him back into the forefront of the national conversation.
“It’s clear to me that he’s going to try to balance his local town hall [strategy] with a national message,” Robert Wolf, a major Democratic donor who has given to O’Rourke and several other candidates, said in an interview after he spoke with O’Rourke for roughly an hour Tuesday.
O’Rourke acknowledged his struggles — and his optimism — in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Monday night.
“I recognize that I can do a better job, also, of talking to a national audience,” he said.
The mission includes engaging with high-dollar donors at a time when Vice President Joe Biden’s entry into the race has reshuffled the deck of candidates and put pressure on rivals to show potential contributors and supporters that they can compete. Biden has led, by varying but clear margins, in every national primary poll taken since he announced his candidacy last month.
But O’Rourke has numbers of his own to tout, and a possible pivot point. A CNN survey released earlier this month showed him with a 10-point lead over President Donald Trump in a head-to-head matchup, the biggest margin for any Democrat and a clear break for a candidate who was in a slide.
From O’Rourke’s perspective, gaining traction is a matter of connecting his work on the ground in Iowa, New Hampshire and other states with a bigger audience — particularly when it comes to matters of substance that Democratic voters across the country care about.
“We chatted a lot about what he is hearing at his town halls and the key topics that they want to discuss and which [of] his ideas are resonating and gaining momentum,” Wolf said. “He was very clear how the trade war is impacting rural areas and farmers especially in communities in Iowa. He also spoke with me in depth on his policies on immigration, climate change and gun reform.”
That requires flexing new muscles for a candidate who kept his distance from the national party, and the major media circuit, as he campaigned across Texas last year in his challenge to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. But O’Rourke’s recent moves suggest he knows he has to talk to party primary voters across the country if he is to compete for the Democratic nomination.
Climate change has been a major focus for O’Rourke, who distinguishes himself from fellow Democrats with his plan to pay for his proposal by using federal investments to attract private dollars. As a native of El Paso, Texas, who has been steeped in immigration policy for his entire political career, that’s a topic he feels comfortable with, and he has been talking more about the contours of gun control measures lately.
But while delving into the nuances of policy offer O’Rourke an opportunity to present himself anew as a candidate of substance to a national audience, they are also riddled with perils. Last week, he praised one of his rivals, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., for proposing a federal firearms licensing program — one day after saying Booker might have “gone too far.”
While many Democrats across the country ardently want much stricter gun-control measures, 24 percent of Iowa Democrats favored a state constitutional amendment ensuring the right to bear arms, according to a February Des Moines Register poll. In New Hampshire, which allows independents to vote in the Democratic primary, gun issues may play very differently than they do in closed Democratic primaries in other states.
Beyond the policy, though, O’Rourke’s main need may be to convince fellow Democrats that he’s not the avatar of privilege he may have appeared to be when he launched his campaign.
On Tuesday, he told Joy Behar, a co-host of ABC’s “The View” that his remarks to Vanity Fair were a mistake.
“I think it reinforces that perception of privilege and that headline that said I was born to be in this — in the article I was attempting to say that I felt that my calling was in public service,” he said. “No one is born to be president of the United States of America, least of all me.”
It’s still early, and O’Rourke is sure to get the second chance he seeks — the question is whether he’ll be able to turn it into a comeback story.
Allen reported from Washington, Haake reported from New York
Brexit Party polls latest: Policies and manifesto – What does Brexit Party stand for?
THE BREXIT PARTY is tipped to score a major victory against the Conservatives and Labour in the European Elections 2019 – but what does the party stand for and how is it faring in the latest polls?
California considers health care for undocumented immigrants
By Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Lilian Serrano’s mother-in-law had lots of stomach problems, but she always blamed food.
Doctors at a San Diego-area clinic suspected Genoveva Angeles might have cancer, but they could not say for sure because they did not have the equipment to test for it and Angeles, who had been in the country illegally for 20 years, could not afford to see a specialist and did not qualify for state assistance because of her immigration status.
In September, Angeles finally learned she had gallbladder cancer. Serrano said she was in the hospital room when Angeles, in her late 60s, died about two weeks later.
“We don’t know if she would have survived treatment, but she was not even able to access it,” said Serrano, chairwoman of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium.
“She never had a chance to fight cancer.”
Stories like that have prompted California lawmakers to consider proposals that would make the state the first in the nation to offer government-funded health care to adult immigrants living in the country illegally. But the decision on who to cover may come down to cost.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to spend about $98 million a year to cover low-income immigrants between the ages of 19 and 25 who are living in the country illegally.
The state Assembly has a bill that would cover all immigrants in California living in the country illegally over the age of 19. But Newsom has balked at that plan because of its estimated $3.4 billion price.
“There’s 3.4 billion reasons why it is a challenge,” he said.
The state Senate wants to cover adults ages 19 to 25, plus seniors 65 and older. That bill’s sponsor, Sen. Maria Elana Durazo, scoffed at cost concerns, noting the state has a projected $21.5 billion budget surplus.
“When we have, you know, a good budget, then what’s the reason for not addressing it?” she said.
The Senate and Assembly will finalize their budget proposals this week before beginning negotiations with the governor. State law says a budget has to be passed by June 15 or lawmaker forfeit their pay.
At stake, according to legislative staffers, are the 3 million people left in California who don’t have health insurance. About 1.8 million of them are immigrants in the country illegally. Of those, about 1.26 million have incomes low enough to qualify them for the Medi-Cal program.
“Symbolically, this is quite significant. This would be establishing California as a counter to federal policies, both around health care and immigration,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president for health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
If enacted, it could prompt yet another collision with the Trump administration, which has proposed a rule that could hinder immigrants’ residency applications if they rely on public assistance programs such as Medicaid.
The proposed rule from the Department of Homeland Security says the goal is to make sure “foreign nationals do not become dependent on public benefits for support.”
California is also considering a measure requiring everyone in the state to purchase health insurance. People who refuse would have to pay a penalty, and the money would go toward helping middle-income residents purchase private health insurance plans.
“We’re going to penalize the citizens of this state that have followed the rules, but we’re going to let somebody who has not followed the rules come in here and get the services for free. I just think that’s wrong,” Republican state Sen. Jeff Stone said about coverage of people in the U.S. illegally.
Many immigrants who are in the country illegally are already enrolled for some government-funded programs, but they only cover emergencies and pregnancies.
Serrano was one of hundreds of immigrant activists who came to the Capitol on Monday for “Immigrant Day of Action.” She and her husband spent the day meeting with lawmakers, sharing the story of Angeles.
“The conversation that I have is about the cost,” she said, describing her interactions with lawmakers. “The conversation we want to have is about our families.”
German politicians say May has NO CHANCE with fourth Brexit vote – ‘Alice in Wonderland!’
POLITICIANS in Germany have dismissed Prime Minister Theresa May’s last-ditch bid to get her withdrawal agreement through the House of Commons – with one describing the situation as “like Alice in Wonderland”.
World1 week ago
Next European Commission President: candidates and process
World1 week ago
UN says first day of Houthi withdrawal from Yemen ports went to plan
World1 week ago
DoubleLine’s Gundlach warns of recession, ‘cocktail of economic risk’
Politics7 days ago
With eye on China, Trump escalates cybersecurity battle with executive order
Politics6 days ago
This teen journalist got the scoop on Bill de Blasio’s presidential campaign
Politics7 days ago
LABOUR CRISIS: Ex-minister QUITS ‘cult’ party after 45 years over Corbyn anti-Semitism row
Politics1 week ago
Why Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden really need each other
World1 week ago
Chinese streaming giant iQiyi planning out original movie business