Beto O’Rourke Visits UW-Madison


Author: Will Kenneally

Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman who many suspect will make a 2020 presidential bid, visited UW-Madison on a swing through the midwest.

O’Rourke did not make any noise on whether he was going to run for president, but rather said his goal was to come without an agenda and to listen to what the people had to say.

This comes on the heels of Wisconsin getting more play in the talk of the 2020 race for president. Milwaukee will likely host the 2020 Democratic National Convention, and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar is planning an early stop in the state–Eau Claire on Saturday.

With all the attention on what is traditionally ‘fly-over country,’ O’Rourke says he knows the feeling of being politically forgotten.

“We [in El Paso, Texas] were physically so far removed from the centers of power that we didn’t feel like we had a voice in this country’s future on the issues that we knew better than anyone else,” he said.

“I want to make sure that everyone is involved in the conversation, the future of this country,” He added. “As I try to make a decision about how I can be most helpful to the United States right now, I want to make sure I’m listening to everyone.”

Speaking to a lecture hall of about 200 people, O’Rourke took questions ranging from the current state of political rhetoric to economic issues. He also touched on funding for a southern border wall, which made news just hours earlier with President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency.

“There are legitimate concerns about security and safety at the border, transnational gangs, illegal drugs that are crossed the traffic and human beings,” O’Rourke said. “We can meet those challenges not with a wall, which is absolutely ineffective, but in supporting border patrol, customs and border protection.”

As well as discussing policy, he stressed it was important to speak with young people, who he said will inherit the outcomes of current policy debates

“Students have just as much, or one could argue, a greater vested interest in the outcome [of policy decisions], because they will be living with it longer than I will,” he said.