Beto O’Rourke, the former U.S. congressman and U.S. Senate candidate who said he is taking the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, said in an interview with CSPAN that his campaign will not focus on the status of former Vice President Joe Biden or his potential nomination.
“We’re doing it as a Texas campaign,” O’Rourke said. “I have a passion about the people of Texas. The vision that we’re putting forward is going to make our state a model for the nation, and that is not going to be somebody else running and saying this about me or talking about me.”
O’Rourke said that he has not called Biden, the former vice president, and that there is “nothing to confirm, so to speak, or deny” whether he will run for president, a statement that marks a shift from comments he made at an October fundraiser where he stated he had spoken to the former vice president.
While a number of high-profile politicians, including Biden, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, have declared their interest in running for president, O’Rourke, who electrified audiences during his unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid, has served as one of the more possible candidates in the Democratic field, fending off criticism that his name recognition was too low for a presidential bid.
O’Rourke also stressed his own personal commitment to the issues he intends to tackle as governor.
“I want to go and provide for the people of Texas, but I want to also be the face of a better America,” O’Rourke said. “I’m the embodiment of what that means, that I think it’s a lot harder to change other people’s minds if you haven’t had to change yours, if you haven’t done the hard work and had to put in the work and had to have lived through some of the experiences in order to get to where you want to go.”
O’Rourke also took issue with the policies of the current president and his party, taking a swipe at the president’s immigration stance and denouncing a denial that human trafficking victims are being used to attract U.S. children.
“This is not just an issue for the Democratic Party,” O’Rourke said. “I would be a fool to think this is not an issue for the Republican Party, which has been nothing but opportunistic and suspicious of these kinds of things.”