Lunch date; candidate visits Wise to stump, grab food

By David Talley | Published Published Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017

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Standing in a crowded restaurant on the Decatur square, U.S. District 16 Rep. Beto O’Rourke spoke only slightly above a conversational tone to chat with those gathered.
The El Paso congressman announced his candidacy in March to challenge U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 election and stopped by Sweetwater Cafe and Bakery Friday to grab lunch and visit with eager voters. It’s part of a 34-day campaign road trip across the state during his congressional recess. With many in the restaurant there for his stump, O’Rourke didn’t need the provided microphone.
Like several other Democratic candidates who have visited the county in recent months, O’Rourke hit his incumbent opponent over not visiting with his constituents.
“I don’t know the last time Ted Cruz had a town hall in Decatur,” O’Rourke said.
Cruz held town hall meetings in North Texas last month, visiting McKinney, where the Texas Tribune reports the senator was berated by constituents over his efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
O’Rourke also touched on healthcare, first bringing up bipartisanship as the means to get things done and assuring listeners he was willing to work across the aisle to find a better solution than the troubled American Health Care Act. The representative famously drove from San Antonio to Washington D.C. with Republican colleague Will Hurd of Helotes in March after flights back to the Capitol were canceled due to snow. The two live streamed their trip on Facebook, later signing on to each other’s legislation.
“Yes, I’m a Democrat,” O’Rourke said. “But I’m an American first and also a Texan.”
Rather than spending time working across the aisle, O’Rourke said Cruz spent his recent time in office running for president.
As a senator, O’Rourke said he could better act as a check on President Donald Trump’s agenda and appointments. The senate deadlocked in February over approving political activist Betsy Devos as secretary of education. Vice President Mike Pence issued the tie-breaking vote. O’Rourke said he was opposed to the confirmation, especially in light of Devos’ recent budget proposal, which would deeply cut funding for public schools in favor of private school choice legislation.
The representative also brought up the importance of rural broadband improvements as a needed infrastructure project. The Trump administration has pushed infrastructure objectives recently, and O’Rourke said that constituted a chance to work across the aisle.
O’Rourke sits on the House Committees on Armed Services and Veteran’s Affairs and said he’s proud to have recently worked to better healthcare for veterans in his district.
“Recently, we’ve been able to shorten the wait for mental healthcare for veterans in El Paso, and that’s something I’d love to get to work on for the rest of the state,” he said.

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