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Beto Begins: Texas Democrat to visit all 10 N.H. counties

KEENE – After becoming a national sensation for Democrats while nearly winning a U.S. Senate race in 2018, Beto O’Rourke of Texas reported raising a record $6.1 million in online contributions within 24 hours of launching his presidential campaign last week.

Supporters packed the Keene State College Student Center Tuesday in anticipation of O’Rourke’s debut as a candidate in the first-in-the-nation primary state. O’Rourke currently ranks No. 2 on The Telegraph’s list of top Democratic presidential contenders for 2020, with U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., maintaining the No. 1 position.

“We must come together as a country, not as a party, transcend the differences and the divides of geography and party and any other difference that doesn’t matter at this defining moment of truth – and guarantee every single American high quality health care, without exception,” O’Rourke told the crowd in Keene.

Upon arrival, O’Rourke stood atop a bench in the center of the first floor, looking out on a sea of supporters, young and old. He spoke to issues such as immigration, climate change and fixing the country’s voting system, among other topics.

“I want every working American to know that we got their back,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke is now supporting the so-called “Green New Deal,” which some estimate would cost taxpayers up to $93 trillion during the next 10 years. However, O’Rourke said that unless strong action against the use of oil, natural gas and coal takes place within 12 years, the world faces great peril.

“If you are worried about 400,000 apprehensions at our southern border with Mexico last year, wait until some of the countries in the Western Hemisphere are no longer inhabitable by human beings,” O’Rourke said. “The refugee crisis then, here, and all over the world, is beyond our imagination right now, but we still have time to act.”

O’Rourke also placed blame for New Hampshire’s opioid crisis on pharmaceutical executives. He said it is not fair that these individuals are walking free in a country with the largest prison population in the world. He said real criminal justice reform is needed, which includes full legalization of marijuana.

“The greatest mechanism humankind has ever devised for tackling challenges of this scope and scale is democracy, and our democracy right now is so badly broken,” O’Rourke said. “If we fix our democracy we’ll then be able to fix every single one of these challenges that I just laid out.”

“Yes, we are a country of asylum seekers, and refugees and immigrants, but we’re also a country that brought people here in bondage; and through their slave labor, literally built the foundation and the wealth that we are so proud of today, and were able to share in almost none of it,” O’Rourke added.

O’Rourke plans to visit all 10 counties during his two-and-a-half-day New Hampshire swing. While planning over-the-road stops in in Coös and Merrimack Counties, his schedule includes appearances in Claremont, Plymouth, Conway, Durham, Portsmouth, Laconia and Manchester.

WHO IS BETO O’ROURKE?

• Born Sept. 26, 1972 in El Paso, Texas. He is now married father of three.

• Earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Columbia University in 1995.

• Served three terms as a Democratic member of the U.S. House, representing a district in West Texas.

• Became a national hero for Democrats while nearly defeating U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, last year.

• According to Reuters, he was once a member of a computer hacking group known as “Cult of the Dead Cow.”