Washington Post Live, "The 2020 Candidates: Beto O'Rourke"

Washington D.C. —Beto O'Rourke was interviewed at the Washington Post on Wednesday morning. This interview is part of the Washington Post Live’s "The 2020 Candidate Series" with Post reporter Robert Costa. Concerns for O’Rourke’s campaign were addressed, as well as the criticism he faces within the democratic party for being considered “too far left.” Topics such as O’Rourke’s gun control buyback program, Syrian intervention, access to mental health care for veterans, LGBTQ+ rights and impeachment were discussed.

“Access to mental health care for veterans, reducing gun violence in America, confronting climate change before it’s too late, can be fixed on the political spectrum between right and left. These are just fundamental American concerns [that] must be met with fundamental American values, and part of that is bringing people together to meet these challenges in common.” O’Rourke said.

Costa asked O’Rourke about his gun buyback program. How it’s going to work? What is going to happen? Due to the recent uptick of mass shootings in the United Sates, the buyback program has been a centerpiece of O’Rourke’s campaign. Weapons of war such as AR-15s and AK- 47s are a critical component of the program, which O’Rourke distinguishes from the guns used to hunt and for self-defense. “El Paso Texas, 22 killed in under 3 minutes. When the second amendment was written, ratified and adopted, it took you three minutes to reload your musket. Founding fathers, framers of our constitution, could not have envisioned this kind of carnage,” O’Rourke said.

Costa directly asked about the program's effectiveness for those who don’t turn in their guns to be bought back, and what else will be done. “You pass a law. That law is debated through our fellow American’s representatives in the House and in the Senate. I sign that law as President of the United States and we then expect our fellow Americans to follow the law,” O’Rourke said. Just as you would with any other law, the program has the same concept. The administrators of the program would be Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms with local, state and county law enforcement help.

In recent weeks impeachment has been in the news, and President Trump has even compared impeachment to lynching. O’Rourke spoke openly of his disdain for the current President, and he said Trump has used his power “based on a fabricated fear he has tried to instill about the differences between us. According to how you pray or how I love, or where we are from.” The future, O’Rourke states, is the only way to move forward.

In terms of foreign policy, Costa asked O’Rourke if he would send troops into Syria to protect the Kurds in 2021. “I would not turn my back on allies that we have on the ground. That I would seek to make sure we maintain an American involvement to the end of a political resolution, to challenges we have been trying to solve militarily for the last almost 30 years,” O’Rourke said. This has been a topic of debate amongst all candidates and was mentioned at the October Democratic debate. O’Rourke said that due to the current actions of President Trump, we make it unlikely that the Kurds would want to ally with the United Sates again.

O’Rourke believes issues have to be solved politically first before militarily. “We’ve got to decide that we are going to use the power of diplomacy, the convenient authority that the United States has, to peacefully and politically resolve these differences,” O’Rourke said.

Because of the recent heat O’Rourke has faced due to the brazen nature of his comments, Costa posed the question of how O’Rourke would unite the Democratic party. His response was that the American public have all the same worries and some form of common ground. The relation O’Rourke made was to that in 2012 when he was running for Congress and going door to door.

He made the point that face to face connection is something so critical to his campaign. He says he will make addressing access to mental healthcare for veterans his biggest issue once elected. When O’Rourke was in congress, he used what he had heard from all those face to face interactions and created legislation that were “signed into law by the one man with whom I agree on almost nothing: Donald Trump.”

Click here to watch the full interview.


Photo taken by Allesandra Plourde