Presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke visits Twin Cities a day ahead of Vice President Mike Pence

May 08, 2019 10:51 PM

Presidential candidates are making their way to Minnesota as the clock ticks toward the 2020 primaries. Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke made his first campaign visit to the state on Wednesday.

He stopped at Angry Inch Brewery in Lakeville in the afternoon before hosting a Minneapolis town hall in the evening.


Hundreds of people packed into the Edison High School cafeteria.

O’Rourke, a democrat, spoke periodically in Spanish. He called for immigration reform and gun control. He also spoke passionately about taking action to prevent climate change.

“We can retake our rightful role as the indispensable nation, convene the other powers of the planet and ensure we lead this world doing what no other country is capable of,” he said. “Then and only then will we have any prospect of ensuring that this planet does not cook two degrees Celsius, after which the train is off the tracks.”

“At this moment, let us define ourselves not by who we are against, not by who we are afraid of, not who it is we hate, but let us instead be known ever after by our ambitions, the work, the creativity, the service, the sacrifice we will bring to bear in order to achieve them.”

He took questions from voters, one asked how he would ensure affordable healthcare and prescription drugs prices.

O’Rourke responded by saying, “we free ourselves from the real or perceived conflict of interest by not accepting any political action committee money at all, from any of them.”

The El Paso native is the latest Democrat to visit the Twin Cities.

On Thursday, South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg held a private fundraiser in St. Paul. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang was in Minneapolis on Sunday.

“I think it’s a democratic stronghold, or at least it was,” said Peter Christensen, from Shoreview, at O'Rourke's event. “I hope it will continue to be. I know we came close to losing the state when the last election took place.”

He said he’s concerned about the crowded field. With 21 candidates, Christensen said he hopes they don’t damage each other while seeking the nomination.

“Hopefully someone will emerge and it will be a strong candidate,” he said.

Nicole Monaghan from Farmington stated that Democratic voters have their work cut out for them with the heavy candidate pool.

 “Because there's so many candidates right now, I want to have the opportunity to see as many of my favorites and feel them out,” Monaghan said.

RELATED: Democrat Beto O'Rourke announces 2020 White House bid

She went on to say, “I just think that both sides see this as an opportunity to pick up Minnesota so as a Democrat I hope we put our best candidate forward so that we can win in 2020.”

In 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump narrowly missed winning the state's 10 electoral votes. The last time the state voted for a republican president was President Nixon.

“We are seeing major shifts in terms of electoral results in the state of Minnesota,” said Jennifer Carnahan, the Minnesota Republican Party chair. “We're going to see a very different strategy for 2020 and we are highly confident the President has a good opportunity to win our state's electoral votes with a high popularity, especially in greater Minnesota.”

Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to visit the state on Thursday. According to Carnahan, it will be his fourth visit in just over a year. She said President Trump has visited the state three times in the past year.

“That is absolutely significant because in our state we have never seen this level of attention from republican leadership out of Washington,” she said. “The fact that they’re coming here and putting an emphasis and focus on Minnesota, shows that nationally republicans understand the importance of our state.”

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Callan Gray

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