CHARLESTON, S.C. (CN) – Beto O’Rourke, the Texas Democrat who almost managed to unseat Senator Ted Cruz, stomped across South Carolina just eight days after officially launching his presidential campaign.
O’Rourke stood on a table to address a crowd of over 1,000 at Tradesman’s Brewing Co. in Charleston Friday afternoon. Known for being a centrist, O’Rourke began with his vision of working closely with locals such as South Carolina state Representative Marvin Pendarvais to ensure all Americans have access to affordable housing.
“Everyone deserves a roof over their head so that they can achieve their highest potentials, so they can be successful in their jobs or achieve whatever it is they are meant to achieve,” O’Rourke proclaimed in a strained voice.
The El Paso native touched on working with Representative Joe Cunningham, D-South Carolina, to close “the Charleston Loophole.” Gunman Dylan Roof should not have been able to legally purchase the firearm he used in 2015 to gun down African-American church leaders in a prayer meeting at African Methodist Episcopal Emanuel in downtown Charleston, in what came to be known as the Charleston Church Massacre. The FBI failed to discover Roof’s felony drug charge during the three-day waiting period for firearm purchases.
“We know this will save lives. Thirty thousand American lives are lost each year to gun violence. This is a human-caused problem that has a human solution. The solution doesn’t come from corporations or the NRA – we as humans can responsibly solve this,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke also addressed climate change, stressing an end to America’s dependence on fossil fuels. He supports investing in solar and wind industries, which he said have the fastest-growing job markets in the nation. The crowd erupted in cheers as he yelled, “No offshore drilling!”
“Excess and our own inaction have caused the Earth’s temperature to warm one degree Celsius since 1980,” O’Rourke said. “Scientists have warned if we don’t act on this in the next 12 years, the fires, floods that affect this community and droughts will increase into a hell we can’t imagine for our children and generations to come.”
O’Rourke also hit on the topics of universal health care, women’s rights, mental health care, prison reform and increases to teachers’ salaries. He vowed not to accept donations from PACs or corporations, touting a “for the people, by the people” ideology. After his speech, O’Rourke spoke with rally attendees.
Prior to the brewery meet-and-greet, O’Rourke made stops at the University of South Carolina, South Carolina State, and the city of Rock Hill, which is steeped in civil rights history.
O’Rourke served three terms as the U.S. Congressional representative for Texas’ 16th district. Walking away with just 48 percent of the vote, he narrowly lost his 2018 bid for Senate against incumbent Republican Ted Cruz.