Having fallen into the Land of Rounding Error in the polls, Beto O’Rourke put on a suit and tie and appeared on CNN at the first national town hall of his 2020 White House bid, calling to impeach President Donald Trump, recruit allies in the tariff war against China and defend his latest grooming livestream.
The media gave high grades to their former Dem darling for Tuesday night’s performance, a benefit of low expectations. But the town hall did not generate the kind of headlines of rival Pete Buttigieg’s event last Sunday on Fox News Channel. Hoping to regain the spotlight stolen by Mayor Pete, O’Rourke recently told reporters he’d love to do a FNC town hall, though he was unaware of any current talks to do so. Best that Beto could do was to hint it’s possible his campaign has had discussions with Fox News, according to reporters on his bus.
For now, he town hall-ed with CNN’s Dana Bash, at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
“Nice haircut,” she began, snarking, “If you make it to the White House, what else will you be livestreaming?”
O’Rourke, who previously had livestreamed a visit to the dentist, said the intent of his haircut livestream was to “show off my hometown of El Paso, Texas,” and the “extraordinary barber who produced this haircut that you are seeing right now.” The barber, he said, moved to Texas from Ciudad Juarez nine years ago, to “create jobs, to contribute to our quality of life, to help tell the American story.”
Beto called for Trump’s impeachment, arguing, “If we do nothing because we are afraid of the polls or the politics or the repercussions in the next election, then we will have set a precedent for this country that, in fact, some people because of the position of power and public trust that they hold are above the law.”
Addressing a soybean farmer in the audience who asked a question about Trump’s tariffs on China, O’Rourke said the farmer is “bearing the brunt of this president’s disastrous trade war and the tariffs that he’s imposed that are destroying the markets that you have worked a lifetime to establish, you and other farmers and growers here and in my home state of Texas and, frankly, across this country.”
“I want to win this fight with China, but I want to do it with allies, not alone,” the former Texas congressman said.
He promised, if elected, to make sure every nominee to every federal bench including the Supreme Court “understands and believes that the 1973 decision, Roe v. Wade, is the settled law of the land.”
And he vowed to put opioid peddling execs in jail, arguing “We are busting people for possession of marijuana…and yet no one from Purdue Pharma has done a night in jail or paid any significant consequence.”
“It is pretty clear that Purdue Pharma was marketing opioids to prescribers and to doctors as a miracle cure without side effects and playing down any consequences of addiction, though they knew something to the contrary,” he told the receptive crowd.
“There has to be legal consequences, including jail time,” he added.