Beto O'Rourke in Iowa - March 2019

Beto O’Rourke visits Iowa – March 14, 2019. Screen grab via the AP.

Beto O’Rourke formally kicked off his campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Saturday by highlighting the sharp differences between President Trump’s position on immigration vs. his own. He emphasized Trump’s recent threat to close down the southern border. (Full remarks at El Paso rally can be heard in the video below.) O’Rourke said:

With Ciudad Juarez we form the largest binational community in this hemisphere. And for 20 years running, we’ve been one of the safest cities in the United States of America. We are safe not despite the fact that we are a city of immigrants and asylum seekers. We are safe because we are a city of immigrants and asylum seekers.

We have learned not to fear our differences, but to respect and embrace them. We see the languages spoken in this community, the traditions, the cultures, as a strength for El Paso.

On Friday, President Trump tweeted:

The DEMOCRATS have given us the weakest immigration laws anywhere in the World. Mexico has the strongest, & they make more than $100 Billion a year on the U.S. Therefore, CONGRESS MUST CHANGE OUR WEAK IMMIGRATION LAWS NOW, & Mexico must stop illegals from entering the U.S….

….through their country and our Southern Border. Mexico has for many years made a fortune off of the U.S., far greater than Border Costs. If Mexico doesn’t immediately stop ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States throug our Southern Border, I will be CLOSING the Border, or large sections of the Border, next week.

O’Rourke also castigated the President over family separations at the border, a policy he say he would end. 

Let us reunite every single one of those families that are still separated today. And let’s remember that every single one of us, including those who are just three or four blocks from here detained under the international bridge that connects us with Mexico behind chain-linked fence and barbed wire, that they are fellow human beings and deserved to be treated like our fellow human beings.

We will find security not through walls, not through militarization, we will find security by focusing on our ports of entry. If we are really serious about security, we have a golden opportunity, Republicans, Independents, Democrats alike to work on comprehensive immigration reform, to rewrite this country’s immigration laws in our own image with our own values and in the best traditions of the United States of America.

He told supporters that Texas was becoming a more Democratic-leaning state and that “this state and its 38 electoral votes count like they have never counted before.”

Beto is currently trailing in most polls, but following the flap over Joe Biden’s  “predatory” behavior and the political surprises that will inevitably arise with the other candidates, well, one never knows.

Recently, there’s been talk of a Kamala Harris/Beto O’Rourke ticket which many believe would be a formidable one.

Although Beto lacks “substance,” we are reminded of a certain charismatic senator from Illinois who also lacked substance, but went on to win the White House. It’s still too early in the game to make any predictions.