HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Democratic Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke rallied a crowd of hundreds at the Hilton Short Pump in Henrico, on one of seven stops he’s making in Virginia this week.
The former Texas congressman only announced his candidacy for president a month ago, but his unique name is already becoming a household name.
He raised the most money, $6.1 million, in the first day of campaigning of all 18 Democratic candidates. And he rose to fame after narrowly losing a race for U.S. Senate to Ted Cruz last year.
Now O’Rourke is hoping a early swing through Virginia - a swing state - will put him on the map.
Democratic Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger welcomed O’Rourke to the stage, saying, “I join you today as a voter excited to hear from one of our candidates and to note the progress we have made because Henrico County is on the map and we have candidates stopping here.”
With the animated speaking style he’s known for, O’Rourke rallied voters, calling for universal healthcare that he said would prevent skyrocketing prescription prices and protect access to abortion.
“Universal healthcare must also mean every woman makes her own decisions about her own body and has access to the care to ensure that she can,” O’Rourke said.
He said he supports universal background checks on firearms, opposes separating families at the border and calls for more money for teacher pay.
“Those instructors in the classroom, in front of the kids, we are not paying them their value and what they are worth in this Commonwealth. We are forcing too many to work a second or a third job just to make ends meet,” he told the crowd.
O’Rourke took questions from the crowd, including one on how to prevent campus sexual assaults.
“That we have the resources necessary to do the proper investigations, and ensure that we have justice, and that we prevent these assaults and attacks from taking place, in the first place,” O’Rourke said.
Attendees say it’s O’Rourke’s ability to connect with them that drew them out.
“He just sounded so personable like he was really for the people and not just speaking as a politician,” said voter Donna Lawrence.
“His campaign style really shows how much he cares about wanting to connect with the people,” said voter Jed Baul.
A connection O’Rourke hopes to keep building with crowds, in order to pull away from the crowded pack of candidates.
After releasing ten years of tax returns this week, an expert reported finding O’Rourke underpaid taxes in 2013 and 2014 by a total of $4,000. O’Rourke announced today he will amend those returns.
O’Rourke campaigns in northern Virginia on Wednesday.
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