Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke told members of the Rotary Club of Fort Worth Friday afternoon that Texans need to set aside their differences and work together, regardless of their political affiliation.
“And this is the time, if ever there was one, we’ve got to find out where the common ground is,” O’Rourke, a Democrat, said to those gathered at the Friday luncheon.
O’Rourke, himself a former Rotary Club member, answered questions from the club’s ex-president J.R. Labbe on school vouchers, the impact of making abortion illegal in Texas, immigration reform and mental health care.
He said the state needs to prioritize funding for public school teachers and police officers, as well as increasing training and accountability for police.
When Labbe questioned him about what his stand on gun control means for law-abiding owners of AR-15 rifles, O’Rourke said there should be common sense laws in place that would appeal to both Democrats and Republicans.
O’Rourke mentioned raising the minimum age to purchase firearms from 18 to 21, and instituting red flag laws and a universal background check.
He criticized Gov. Greg Abbott for signing a license to carry bill into law in September 2021.
O’Rourke said he’s taken some lessons from previous campaigns and said he’s been focusing on underrepresented rural communities that are often overlooked by both Democrats and Republicans.
“You got to show up for people if you’re going to be able to earn their votes,” O’Rourke said of his recent visit to Clarksville, a rural community in East Texas.
O’Rourke is in the middle of his 49-day “Drive for Texas” campaign. On Aug. 10 he spoke at a town hall event in Mineral Wells, where he fired back at a heckler who reportedly chuckled when O’Rourke described the AR-15 used in the Uvalde school massacre.
On Thursday, he spoke to supporters at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, assuring them that if elected he would fight for their rights and accomplish what Texans want.
After his speech at the Rotary Club, O’Rourke was scheduled to head to St. James CME Church in Gainesville for a Friday evening appearance. On Saturday he will appear in Greenville and Frisco.