Beto O’Rourke launched his presidential campaign today by stressing the value immigrants brought to the United States, a message in direct contrast to President Trump’s threat to close the border, and taking a shot at the president’s use of ‘fear and division.’
“For too long in this country, the powerful have maintained their privilege at the expense of the powerless. They have used fear and division in the same way that our current president uses fear and division,” O’Rourke said.
“We are Americans first,” he said, as the crowd of thousands cheered ‘USA, USA, USA.’
He continually returned to a theme of unity in his remarks and called on people to forget their past differences to come together for the country.
“So, whatever our differences, where you live, who you love, to whom you pray, for whom you voted in the last election, let those differences not define us or divide us at this moment,” he said.
His kickoff speech was heavy on the soaring rhetoric and positive vision for the country his Senate campaign relied upon.
“El Paso represents to me America at its best,” the 46-year-old said. “For more than 100 years this community has welcomed generations of immigrants from across the Rio grande, some having traveled hundreds of miles, some having traveled thousands of miles trying to a better life in this country for themselves and their kids, that’s for sure, but also because they were called to contribute to our shared success and to this country’s greatness, and they have.”
“I am so glad to be here with you today in my hometown, in my home state, to announce that I’m running to serve you as the next president of the United States of America,” he said to cheers and waving flags.
O’Rourke stressed how safe the city of El Paso is even as it sits on the border.
“We formed the largest binational community in this hemisphere. And for 20 years running we’ve been one of the safest cities in the United States of America,” he said.
“We will find security not through walls, not through militarization is, we will find security by focusing on our ports of entry that connect us to the rest of the world so we have a better idea of who and what is coming in here and we facilitate the trade and travel connected to millions of jobs around this country.”
He also took a shot at Trump’s isolationist foreign policy stance and Trump’s relationships with leaders like Kim Jong-Un of North Korea.
“Let’s end these love affairs with dictators and strong men all over the world. Let’s earn the respect of the people around the world, not just by how we treat those in other countries but how we treat those within our country. And how we treat those at the border of our country,” he said.
The setting of O’Rourke’s formal announcement was El Paso Street, which connects the town to Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and was meant to symbolize the unity theme of his campaign.
Supporters waved black-and-white ‘Viva Beto for America’ signs, vendors sold t-shirts, and a variety of flags were waved – including the American flag, Gay pride flags and Beto for America flags.