O'Rourke on the campaign trail: The border is "not enough of a priority" for Biden's administration

AP Photo/LM Otero

Robert Francis O’Rourke, a.k.a. Beto, announced his candidacy for governor this week. He immediately hit the campaign trail with an ambitious list of stops to make. Who knew that right away he would lash out at Joe Biden about his lack of attention to the southern border, among other topics?

O’Rourke begins his campaign by trying to distance himself from Biden. Who can blame him, given Biden’s approval numbers? He told Axios that he won’t campaign as Terry McAuliffe did in Virginia, using Trump’s name in every speech, nor will he play cheerleader for Biden. “Trump doesn’t live in Texas. Biden doesn’t live in Texas. Thirty million of us are what’s most important to me.” One topic on Beto’s mind is the southern border and some of his supporters will not like what he has to say about Biden’s approach, or lack of attention to the border. He calls for “order” and “the rule of law” at the border. He’s a rare progressive that comes down in favor of deportation and what world are we even living in right now? As someone who would never vote for him, it is refreshing to hear that from a bat poop crazy leftist.

“It’s clear that President Biden could be doing a better job at the border,” O’Rourke told CBS station KTVT in Dallas-Fort Worth. “It is not enough of a priority for his administration.”

O’Rourke continued: “We’ve got to have predictability, order, and the rule of law and that means honoring our asylum laws when someone has a credible asylum claim. That also means, and this is not popular amongst all Democrats, but it means that when someone comes here and doesn’t have a credible asylum claim and has entered in between ports of entry, they should be deported back to the country from which they came.”

His refreshing attitude about law and order on the border only goes so far, though. He’s against the Remain-in-Mexico policy that the previous administration put into action with Mexican officials. Biden tried to stop that policy, despite its success at easing the overcrowding and chaos on the U.S. side of the border, but the administration has been ordered to begin the program again by the Supreme Court. Unlike fellow Democrat Julian Castro, O’Rourke doesn’t agree with ending the federal law that makes it a crime to enter the U.S. without documentation. Beto rightly says that doing so would complicate prosecutions of human traffickers, drug cartels, and others. His idea is that the law should decriminalize illegal entry for refugees and asylum seekers. As we all know at this point, though, the illegal migrants crossing the border all are trying to make claims for asylum because that is what they’ve been instructed to do to remain in the country.

Biden’s approval rating on immigration and border security policies with Texans is low – only at 22%. Abbott is already hitting Beto as a flip-flopper. O’Rourke will try to hit Abbott for not doing a better job on securing the border but it’s doubtful he’ll make any leeway on that front. It’s a federal responsibility and Abbott has been aggressively doing all he can to deal with the situation created by Biden’s desire for a porous border.

Maybe Beto is bothered that Biden hasn’t found a spot for him in his administration. Biden promised to make Beto his gun czar. His bid for governor, which he will lose, is more about Beto’s future. He’s not ready to surrender to the fact that he likely won’t be an elected politician so he is trying to keep raising his profile, getting attention. In 2020, after his spectacular flame-out as a presidential candidate, he signed on with two state universities as an adjunct professor. Texas State University coughed up $7,500 for teaching a course, and he asked for travel expenses related to teaching the course in person. It was scheduled to be an online course because of the pandemic. Texas State is in San Marcos, Texas. Beto lives in El Paso. A bold move to ask for travel expenses, given that he is married to an heiress to a fortune in the real estate development sector. He also signed on to teach a graduate-level course at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. That course was called Texas Democracy and the Fight for Representation which included a focus on political campaigns. He signed on for $10,000 to teach 16 graduate students with another $10,000 to convene at least two public forums.

As I wrote above, Beto will lose this race, making him a three-time loser. He wants to push for more focus on voting rights, for example, and he wants Biden to make that more of a focus in his agenda.

“One thing that we really need [President Biden] to do that he has not done is make voting rights a priority because everything else flows from that. Everything else becomes possible once everyone who’s eligible has the ability to vote.”

“But regardless … what we’ve got to focus on is reaching out to those voters — and the only way I know how to do it is to meet them where they are — and give them a reason to vote or help them to vote where they have these obstacles or barriers in their place.”

One thing that will happen in this campaign is that Abbott is going to have to get out and actively campaign. He coasted to victory in his last campaign and barely even acknowledged his Democrat opponent. He only agreed to one debate with her. This time he’ll have to pro-actively go after Beto and that began before Beto formally announced. Beto will hit Abbott for the power grid failure last February when millions of Texans lost power during a deep freeze, and he’ll go after Abbott’s approach to the pandemic. Abbott has plenty to hit back with – gun-grabbing rhetoric, and his anti-fossil fuel agenda, for example. His progressive views won’t play well in a year when there is expected to be a strong red wave, thanks to Biden’s ineptness.

I’ll end with this tweet that sums up Beto’s run nicely. Even Beto knows he won’t win in 2022.