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O’Rourke Starts Presidential Campaign in Iowa

Clay Masters
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke speaks to a crowd at Sing-A-Long Bar and Grill in Mount Vernon, Iowa. 3/15/2019

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke started his bid for the White House campaigning in Keokuk on Thursday. And continued his swing through the state with multiple stops on Friday.

The former Texas congressman is linking the terrorist attack at two New Zealand mosques that left 49 people dead to President Donald Trump’s rhetoric. 

On the road between campaign stops Friday, O’Rourke said the United States should not only offer compassion to the survivors and to those who lost loved ones in the terrorist attack, but also be a leader in calling out Islamophobia. 

“We must also acknowledge there’s a consequence to our rhetoric and we must be very intentional in how 

Credit Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio
Iowa Public Radio
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke does an interview with Iowa Public Radio between Iowa campaign stops in Mount Vernon and Cedar Rapids. 3/16/2019.

we include people from all walks of life, all traditions of faith, all countries of the planet,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke tells IPR the president should stop “digging a hole,” referring to comments he’s made about immigrants and white nationalists. In the wake of the New Zealand attack, Trump said he does not regard white nationalism as a rising global threat.

O’Rourke also acknowledged mistakes he’s made during a taping of the Political Party Live podcast in Cedar Rapids Friday night.

O’Rourke said his joke about his wife raising their three kids sometimes with his help was a "ham-handed" attempt to highlight the work she does for their family. He also said he was "mortified" by the violent fiction he wrote as at 15.

He says he plans campaign in Iowa regularly for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“I’m really hearing people’s commitment to one another,” O’Rourke told IPR. “And a desire for civility and respect in how we articulate our goals. How we describe other people even to those with whom we disagree.”

Clay Masters is Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition host and lead political reporter.