Beto O’Rourke Imports a Texas Campaign Strategy to His First Day in Iowa – News

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KEOKUK, Iowa — For a second, he appeared virtually tentative, ducking right into a coffeehouse between a tattoo parlor and an American Legion corridor — talking largely of Texas as a result of it was not clear the place else to begin.

“I need to hear from you about what it’s like in Iowa,” Beto O’Rourke stated, standing on a chair minutes into his first occasion as a presidential candidate, on his first-ever go to to the state. “Let me share with you what I discovered in Texas.”

It was a bit after Eight a.m. on Thursday. By 8:30, he had eliminated his sweater to reply a query on federal marijuana legalization. (He’s for it.) By 8:39, he had perspired sufficient that his temples glowed a bit. By 8:45, he was recommending music to the locals.

“Blaze Foley!” he advised one lady who approached for {a photograph}, name-checking the late nation singer from Austin.

[Learn extra about Beto O’Rourke’s entrance into the race, and the place he stands on the problems.]

Mr. O’Rourke, 46, discovered rather a lot from his failed-but-star-making Senate run final 12 months: how you can go viral; how to attract in a volunteer military; how you can drive himself from cease to cease, properly north of the pace restrict, with out attracting an excessive amount of police consideration.

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And on the primary day of his quest for a mega-promotion, as he ferried his staff in a rented minivan with Illinois plates, Mr. O’Rourke made plain his intention to transpose his Texas blueprint onto the nationwide stage.

He peppered his remarks with Spanish earlier than virtually solely Caucasian audiences — swearing sporadically in each languages. He described life in El Paso, the place his spouse is elevating their three children — “generally with my assist,” Mr. O’Rourke joked. He advised the story of a West Texas pecan grower when requested about commerce coverage.

“Our states have one thing in frequent, Texas and Iowa,” Mr. O’Rourke concluded a couple of hours into his journey, evaluating the 2 states’ progress on sustainable vitality.

There may be probably no higher place for this strategy than Iowa, whose residents prize face-to-face interplay with candidates and cheer those that go to all 99 counties. (Mr. O’Rourke touched down in all 254 of Texas’s counties throughout his Senate run.)

But Thursday’s travels additionally highlighted Mr. O’Rourke’s already appreciable following exterior his dwelling state, with phone-waving crowds ready to greet him even for gatherings that had not been marketed broadly.

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“Of us down with ‘The View’?” Mr. O’Rourke requested the room, coming round with out a lot prodding. “I don’t know that I’m within the enterprise of turning anybody away.”

By noon, he was sitting down with Gayle King of CBS.

In different encounters, Mr. O’Rourke, whose public remarks usually lean closely on tales from voters he meets, appeared to be prospecting for contemporary anecdotes in actual time.

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On a tour of Fort Madison Excessive College, he discovered a muse within the welding store chief who was guiding college students into sturdy careers.

“We have to take the lead of Mr. King, who I simply met,” Mr. O’Rourke stated a short time later in one other classroom, the place an indication close to the door included easy directions for the place emigrate in an emergency: “TORNADO,” with an arrow pointing left, and “FIRE,” with an arrow pointing proper.

“I’m so psyched,” Julie Yurko, a math coach for the district, stated afterward, carrying a high and earrings with the pi image for March 14, Nationwide Pi Day. “Fan lady.”

Some college students had been much less animated, barely trying up from their lockers as Mr. O’Rourke handed them. When Mr. O’Rourke knowledgeable a Spanish class that he was looking for the presidency, the trainer reacted (“Ay caramba”) extra theatrically than his prices.

A couple of minutes later, Mr. O’Rourke was led into Classroom 310 to make an introduction. “We’ll be again,” he promised the scholars.

Precisely one in all them clapped. Mr. O’Rourke smiled.

“Thanks for clapping,” he stated softly.

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