Student Grills Beto O’Rourke over Running on ‘Platitudes’ Instead of ‘Actual Policy’

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke listens to a question as he speaks to supporters at Gino's Cento Anno, Monday, March 18, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
AP Photo/Tony Dejak

Campaigning Tuesday at Penn State University, a student pressed 2020 Democrat presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke on when he will unveil “actual policy” instead of “platitudes” — echoing bipartisan criticism that the former Texas congressman is heavy on style, but light on substance.

A transcript is as follows: 

STUDENT: So, my question has to deal with campaign finance. You recently pulled in $6.1 million dollars. […] You broke all records, which I guess is pretty good. But, my concern is how much of that is coming from a process that’s called bundling. For those of you who don’t know, bundling is a process in which political activists and people in the private sector and lobbyists go to wealthy multi-millionaires and basically tell them to give the maximum amount, which is normally anywhere from $2700 to $5600, and basically sort of use it to overinflate a campaign’s, you know, first day totals. For example, just one thousand people giving the maximum $5600 is $5.6 million right off the bat. Your campaign has not released the number of individual donors you have, nor has it released the average donation.

Now, I’m not accusing you of that, but the fact that your campaign is currently working with notorious mega-bundler Louis Sussman gives me a bit of a clue. In addition, when we look on your website, we don’t really see anything in terms of a solid platform or policies. It’s mostly just platitudes. So I guess [my] two-pronged question: One, are you going to release the number of individual donors and your average donor donation because I know your campaign has that data and if you didn’t you’d be running a pretty incompetent campaign and I don’t think you are. You seem like you have yourself together, mostly. And two, when am I going to get an actual policy from you instead of just platitudes and stories.

BETO O’ROURKE: So the answer to your first question is, yes, in addition to how much we raised, the fact that we raised from all 50 states, the fact we took not a dime from a single PAC or lobbyist, we will release the average and the number of donors. Your second question about policy, 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. We talked about healthcare, universal guaranteed high-quality healthcare.  […] To extraordinary women in which I’ve served in Congress, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Rosa Delauro of Connecticut, have introduced a proposal called “Medicare for America,” that ensures that if you have  employer-based insurance, and you like it, you keep it, your doctors, your network, what works for you right now. If you don’t have insurance or you don’t like the insurance you already have, you enroll in Medicare.

According to the student, whose name is Leslie according to her Twitter account, she is a self-avowed socialist and is leaning toward supporting 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who she described as “very moderate” politically.


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