Beto O’Rourke made the rounds at locally owned New Bohemia shops before settling down in front of a crowd of 200 at the Raygun store in Cedar Rapids.
O’Rourke, who gained attention in his close U.S. Senate race against Ted Cruz in the red state of Texas, said he kicked off his campaign Thursday in the small southeast Iowa town of Keokuk as a sign that people everywhere matter, including in “places that are often overlooked.”
Seating was limited in an upstairs room at Raygun in Cedar Rapids, where “Iowa for Beto” T-shirts were already being sold and one was printed on the spot for him.
O’Rourke spoke during the appearance as a guest on Little Village magazine’s Political Party Live podcast, hosted by Iowa City entrepreneur Simeon Talley and Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker.
Topics touched on his progressive political positions, including health care, allowing “Dreamers” to become citizens and acting to combat the threat of climate change.
“If we don’t act with everything we’ve got in the next 10 years, it will be far too late,” he said.
Audience members asked questions about education and mental health, women’s health, and how he would increase the number of refugees to the U.S.
O’Rourke also plans to campaign in Cedar Falls on behalf of Eric Giddens, the Democrat in the special election for Iowa State Senate District 30.