BEN SMITH: Congressman - Ben Smith from BuzzFeed News here. Thanks for doing this. When you free up, can you send on a selfie, and tell us where you are and what you’re up to?
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Selfie of Beto O’Rourke
BS: Probably better change that WiFi password tomorrow … (Sorry)
BETO O’ROURKE: Haha I’m on it. I’m in Las Vegas , just left the Giffords/March for our Lives forum on gun violence. About to sit down with trauma surgeons who have treated gun violence victims.
BS: I want to ask about guns in a sec but
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: NYT headline image reading, “Shoot Migrants’ Legs, Build Alligator Moat: Behind Trump’s Ideas for Border
BS: Eli Paso is a birder district. What’s your reaction to that - in words, emoji, both?
BO: Disgusting. When he does this people die. He’s invited racism and violence into the open, into our communities. Into our politics. 22 were killed in El Paso in part because he kept warning about “invasions” and “infestations” and “killers” “predators” and “animals” - when someone at one of his rallies suggested shooting immigrants he laughed and smiled and encouraged it. 7 kids apprehended at the border have died in our custody. You don’t get kids in cages you don’t treat them like animals until you’ve made every effort to dehumanize them.
BS: On guns, you said this today:
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Tweet from Beto O’Rourke from 10/2/19 reading, “To those in our party worried about polls and listening to consultants - and I’m thinking about Mayor Pete- let me tell you that assault weapons buybacks are supported by a majority of Americans. Not only is this the right thing to do, the American people are with us on this.
BS: Don’t you think the consultants are right to worry that you’re riling up Trump’s base?
BO: No. They should be worried that their poll-testing triangulating politics is irrelevant when it comes to how people feel about guns and about protecting the lives of their kids and their families. The NRA, the consultants, the people more worried about their re-election have set the terms of this debate for too long. March for our Lives and other grassroots leaders have blown past all of that, gotten to the heart of the issue and how people feel. That’s exciting.
BS: Do you find Pete particularly calculating on this stuff?
BO: Yes. His comments about the “shiny objects” today was so offensive to anyone who has been shot by one of these weapons or who fears being shot or who has lost someone to an ar-15 or ak-47. Its offensive to these courageous leaders in March for our Lives. It’s the kind of poll-driven politics that has prevented progress on this issue in the past. Leadership is not testing the wind or being limited by what polls tell you is possible, leadership is doing the right thing when you have the chance to do the right thing. Regardless of politics.
BS: So I asked our audience what I should ask you, and two questions came up a lot. First, a lot of people wish you would run for senate. Why not?
BO: Because I’m running for President.
BS: OK. Second. Is a burrito a taco?
BS: You’ve passed both tests.Finally, there was a pretty heated debate in our newsroom about whether I should ask you about the most famous thing ever tweeted about you. But you’ve had a very particular experience in public life, and we wondered - with tweets like this - do you ever feel that you’re being objectified as a guy?
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Tweet from @leahmcelrath dated 11/12/18 reading, “Ojeda and Avenatti as candidates are like the guy who think good sex is pumping away while you’re making a grocery list in your head wondering when he’ll be done. O’Rourke is like the guy who is all sweet and nerdy but holds you down and makes you cum until your calves cramp.”
BS: Fair enough. Thanks for doing this.
BO: Gracias Ben.