Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke participated in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session on Thursday, but it soon turned disastrous.
The Reddit AMA format is useful for campaign outreach, but users can turn on a candidate if they feel that they are inauthentic or posting canned pre-written content. President Barack Obama famously crashed the Reddit servers in 2012 when he participated in an AMA.
O’Rourke began by announcing his new proposal on marijuana legalization, but he was soon faced with criticism for how he responded to additional questions.
When asked about what his plan was to deal with drugs other than marijuana, O’Rourke responded with an over 100-word statement.
“Another well-crafted response that says absolutely nothing,” a user responded. “I must hand it to you, you have certainly embodied the American political style of wordsmithing so you cannot be held accountable later on.”
Another person brought attention to O’Rourke’s drunk driving arrest, asking him if he still drank alcohol.
“I’ll have a beer from time to time, but I don’t drive if I’ve had a drink,” he said.
Another person used the incident to mock his position on gun control, which was instantly popularized with over 500 upvotes.
“If someone proposed banning alcohol because the actions of other, less responsible consumers were putting a small percentage of the public at risk, how would you respond?” the user asked. O’Rourke did not respond.
His biggest mistake was answering a question on prison reform and deleting it after realizing that his answer talked about restoring voting rights.
“HE DELETED THE RESPONSE THAT INCLUDED RESTORING VOTING RIGHTS,” one user revealed, prompting an online uproar. His answer was down-voted by 260 points.
O’Rourke explained afterward that he deleted the response about voting rights because he felt that the user didn’t want to hear about it.
“Didn’t realize you could edit,” he wrote. “Lesson for next time.”
One user asked O’Rourke why he wasn’t running for Senate when his presidential campaign was polling so badly.
“I’m running for President. I want to be the leader that we need and are missing right now,” he wrote. “Healing instead of inflaming. Bringing us together instead of driving us further apart.”
The user edited his post to further criticize O’Rourke’s response.
“Beto, if you’re reading this still, you won’t win,” he wrote. “Please make yourself useful instead of boosting your ego and profile.”
When trying to explain his plan to confiscate AR and AK semi-automatic rifles, O’Rourke assured users that he had met “countless” gun owners who were willing to give up the guns.
“I have met countless AR and AK owners who say they don’t need it to hunt, they don’t need it for self-defense, it’s fun to shoot but would give it up,” he wrote.
Similarly, a question about why he supported decriminalizing border crossings featured a lengthy answer of over 150 words but failed to answer the question.
“Beto, I do have tremendous respect for you as a person and as an individual. I think you are passionate and I was struck by you during the debate with Ted Cruz and how well you did in your native Texas. But this was really a shit response and really didn’t hit at the crux of my questions,” the user replied.
Hi Beto. As a member of the furry community, what steps would you take to stop any further marginalization of our community?
We’re often the subject of hostility and brutal memes like “GAS ALL FURRIES,” but outside our fursona, we’re all just regular people trying to make our way in the world.
I know you’ve donned the war paint before, so I ask if you’re elected to please help out a group of people that have flown under the radar when discussing underrepresented groups of Americans.
O’Rourke did not stay around to answer, leaving the main AMA forum for an event on his Reddit fan page.