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O'Rourke plans to be 'relentless' showing up in Iowa, elsewhere

Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke speaks Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, during a campaign stop on the Orange Carpet at Thomas Commons at Cornell College campus in Mount Vernon. He will be in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, Nov. 2, at U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer’s fish fry at Hawkeye Downs. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke speaks Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, during a campaign stop on the Orange Carpet at Thomas Commons at Cornell College campus in Mount Vernon. He will be in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, Nov. 2, at U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer’s fish fry at Hawkeye Downs. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Beto O’Rourke is applying Woody Allen’s “80 percent of success is showing up” philosophy to his Iowa caucuses campaign.

“I think it really requires showing up,” the former Texas congressman said to explain his strategy in the caucuses, which kick off Democrats’ 2020 presidential nomination process.

“I have heard that from the people here in Iowa. They want to see me; they want to be able to ask me questions. They want to see how we respond to developments in this country, whether it’s the impeachment inquiry ... the U.S. withdrawal from our Kurdish allies in Syria or issues that we just discussed in this roundtable today around substance use disorder and an opioid overdose epidemic in Iowa and across this country.”

O’Rourke spoke to reporters Thursday after meeting with people at Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition in Cedar Rapids.

With 97 days until the Feb. 3, 2020, caucuses, “we know that most people in Iowa, like most people in the country, have yet to make a final decision on the candidate that they’re going to support,” O’Rourke said. “So we see both a lot of room, a lot of opportunity and a lot of time ... to continue to connect with people who just want to make sure that they make the right choice in that candidate who can defeat Donald Trump, that candidate who can, as president, bring this very divided country together again.”

Although O’Rourke claims to be the 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful “with the most town halls held in Iowa, the most questions answered in the most conversations” since entering the race, he’s found time to campaign in other states because he wants to be seen as a national candidate.

Iowans, he said, “want to know that I’m truly a national candidate who wants to be there for everyone in America and who’s able to bring everyone’s story to bear in our national story and then in the solutions to the greatest set of challenges that we have ever faced.”

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“So we are going to continue to be relentless in our travels across the country, but also relentless in our travels here in Iowa,” O’Rourke said.

Given the size of the Democratic field and fluidity of the race, O’Rourke sees an opportunity to fare well in the caucuses despite being at less than 1 percent in the RealClearPolitics.com polling average.

“I would not be here, if I didn’t sense that or feel that or hear that reflected back from our volunteers who are out there knocking on doors and making phone calls and on the web right now,” he said.

O’Rourke will keep showing up because he’s been told Iowa caucusgoers don’t make up their minds until the end of the campaign.

“So I think the strategy has to be to show up for everyone, listen to everyone, bring everyone in, and then depend on everyone to make that decision as we approach caucus night,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke will be back in Iowa for the Iowa Democratic Party’s Liberty and Justice Celebration on Friday in Des Moines and Iowa 1st District U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer’s fish fry at 1:15 p.m. Saturday at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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