U.S. Representative O'Rourke visits Waco

Beto O'Rourke holds a town hall at the John Knox Memorial Center in Waco. (photo: Matthew Ablon)
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WACO, Tex. (KWTX) - Wacoans gathered Monday evening to have a town hall with U.S. Representative Beto O'Rourke.

O'Rourke, the Democratic representative for the 16th District, has been traveling across the state in a campaign to take the Senate seat of current Republican senator Ted Cruz.

On Monday, he stopped in Waco at John Knox Memorial Hall to listen to the concerns of Central Texans.

An El Paso native, O'Rourke has been campaigning on several key issues, including healthcare, immigration, and criminal justice reform.

O'Rourke says he stands out from Cruz because of his presence across Texas.

"I'm here for the third time this year in Waco," said O'Rourke, "coming to listen, better understand the issues in this community, the needs, the opportunities that Waco sees and what we can do working together to ensure more people can find work, that everyone can see a doctor who needs to, and that we're treating each and every one of us as Texans with the dignity and respect that we deserve."

O'Rourke admitted he was up against a senator who is better known, notably since Cruz was a former presidential candidate during the 2016 election. He isn't letting that push him off the campaign trail, however, claiming that refusing money from political action committees (PACs) justifies his platform.

"Despite the fact that I don't take any political action committee donations- no special interest contributions, no corporate cash that's funneled through those PACs- our campaign, because of Texas, out-raised Ted Cruz in the last three-month reporting period by more than half a million dollars despite his national fundraising base, despite the PAC money that he takes."

During the town hall, O'Rourke took questions from citizens regarding a wide range of issues. Some of those addressed included teacher retirement in Texas, mental health care, and veteran access to services.

He also touched on the controversy surrounding the removal of Confederate statues, saying "I think that the decision to remove these Confederate monuments and put them in museums is the right one".

O'Rourke's tour of Texas has been non-stop, going on for 24 days as of writing. He has now toured most of the state, noting that Monday's town hall marked his third visit to Waco. O'Rourke believes reaching out with such meetings can help improve how elected officials perform at the federal level. He also believes that bipartisanship shouldn't be intimidating.

"The only way we're going to solve this is to elect people who will listen and will work with those who may not see everything the way they do, who will not allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good, who don't think bipartisanship is a bad word."