DERRY, New Hampshire (KXAN) — Democratic Presidential Candidate and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke faced a tough question at a campaign event in New Hampshire.
After O’Rourke, who announced his run for the presidency on March 13, said “As you may know, I take no money from lobbyists from any organization…”, someone from the audience shouted that he actually had back in March.
The voter said: “Beto, I was really inspired to see that you said you would not take money from fossil fuel executives, but I looked it up and you did. You took the max contribution from eight different fossil fuel industry CEOs and executives and a lobbyist from Chevron on March 29 and that just makes it hard for us to believe that you’re going to keep your promises to address the climate crisis. So we want to know, do you stand with us and the millions of people whose lives are being affected by the climate crisis? Those people in Houston. And if you do, will you prove it today by returning that dirty money and signing the no fossil fuel money pledge.”
O’Rourke responded with a lengthy answer, saying:
“So, you’re right. I was just told as we drove in that we accepted on one of the last days of the FEC filing period a check from a lobbyist. We are returning that check from the lobbyist because we declared at the outset that there would be no money accepted from lobbyists. There’s a reason that I’m here right now with you and with these kids and not with my kids back home — Ulysses and Molly and Henry, who are 12, 10 and 8. It’s because I understand what is coming for them unless we take action right now. And I know that there is a way to do it. I know there’s a way to do it without excluding entire industries. Without making people who work for oil and gas companies feel like they’re the enemy, without coal miners feeling like they are somehow guilty of doing something wrong to this country or to this planet, bringing everybody in to the solution that we have going forward. The single greatest industry that has contributed to our campaign so far, a campaign that has not accepted a single dime from a single political action committee, a campaign where 98% of our contributions are under $200, 99% of them came online, and raised more than any other campaign in its first 24 hours, was public school educators and school teachers. So listen, I’m in this fight with you and I know that you have a number of other candidates to vet and to ask questions of and to listen to their plans and policies. But I want to do everything within our power to make sure that we get to net zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible. I know that everything rests on the next 10 years. Reinstituting the clean power plan, raising the vehicle emissions standards, investing in wind and solar, like we have in Texas, believe it or not. We generate four times the wind capacity of the closest state behind us and we’ve invested in the infrastructure, the transmission lines, the opportunities to be able to do that. I know that we can do that in solar where we’re investing in utility-scale solar in El Paso right now and yes, we must absolutely free ourselves from fossil fuels to drive our cars, our businesses and our economy. And you’ve got my commitment to doing that, but I’m not going to write off an entire industry or group of people based on that. If we’re going to come together at this very divided, highly polarized moment, we’ve got to bring people together, see common cause and ensure that everyone is part of the solution.”