A student at Pennsylvania State University questioned Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke during a campaign stop on Tuesday about when O’Rourke planned to talk about policy positions instead of platitudes.
According to the Daily Collegian, O’Rourke spoke to an audience of about 500 on Penn State’s main campus in State College.
“I come out of profound respect hoping to get the best ideas, find out what’s most exciting and what gives folks the greatest cause for concern,” O’Rourke said. “(I want to figure out how we can) build a coalition, the community, the movement, not just to win but to enact the change that we all want to see — that’s what brought me to Penn State today.”
Following his opening remarks to the audience, a student asked the candidate, “When am I going to get an actual policy from you instead of just like platitudes and nice stories?”
O’Rourke responded, “I’m going to try to be as specific as I can. I mentioned our criminal justice system. I’ve called for the end of the prohibition on marijuana and the expungement of the arrest records of everyone who’s been arrested for marijuana.”
The candidate also mentioned “Medicare for America” legislation, which has been introduced in the House of Representatives. The proposal would allow people to keep their employer-based insurance but give them the option to enroll in Medicare.
Some of O’Rourke’s Democratic presidential rivals — including Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Kamala Harris of California — have called for Medicare for all and stated that private healthcare coverage would go away.
Ahead of O’Rourke’s visit, the Penn State College Republicans anticipated hearing where he stood on the issues.
“We look forward to the former congressman shedding some light on where he stands on the actual issues facing America, outside of his support of abortion until the day of birth and outlawing cars through the Green New Deal,” the CR’s Riley Compton told the Daily Collegian.
O’Rourke has been criticized for having a light legislative record during his three terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
He sponsored one bill which became law, naming the federal building and courthouse in El Paso, Texas.
The Texan Tribune reported that the former congressman supported a bill in 2017 that removed most state restrictions on abortion, including waiting periods.
In announcing his presidential candidacy last week, O’Rourke listed the “interconnected crises in our economy, our democracy and our climate” among the top reasons he is running.
“The moment of peril produces perhaps the greatest moment of promise for this country,” he said.
O’Rourke has come out in strong opposition to President Donald Trump’s efforts to build additional barriers along the U.S. border with Mexico and has called for the existing barriers — approximately 650 miles of them — to be taken down.
“We know that walls do not save lives; walls end lives,” O’Rourke said at a counter-rally taking place as Trump promoted the need for additional security at the southern border in El Paso, Texas, last month.
At his El Paso rally, Trump described O’Rourke as “a young man who’s got very little going for himself except a great first name.”
“He’s supposed to win in order to run,” the president added. “Beto was defeated.”
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