By Paul Rozycki
The 2020 presidential campaign came to Flint Wednesday with a visit from Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who held a town hall meeting and rally for several hours with enthusiastic supporters at the Ferris Wheel in downtown Flint.
O’Rourke addressed a full house of more than a hundred people, where he spoke of the new opportunities he said he hoped to see in Flint. O’Rourke said he came to Flint, and 100K Ideas, a nonprofit business incubator at the Ferris Wheel, to learn how the organization facilitates new ideas and businesses. He said, “The 100K helps Flint entrepreneurs develop their ideas from the start until it hits the market…these ideas are incredibly important to the local economy.”
He spent an hour or more taking questions from the audience, addressing issues such as health care, equal rights, immigration, increased access to education, and gay rights. In addition to promoting new businesses and entrepreneurship, he also touched briefly on the Flint water crisis.
When it came to other issues, he said that, while Congress is considering a resolution to impeach President Trump, that the most important thing is to “believe in and restore the public trust” in governmental institutions. In response to a question about national health care, he said that the problem was so bad that in El Paso, he was aware of individuals who purposely got arrested so they could get medical care in jail.
O’Rourke spent more than an hour signing autographs and posing for photos with many who attended.
At the end, he spoke with a group of local media, and laid out some of the key themes of his campaign and his reaction to Flint.
“I am very impressed by the fierce pride I see in Flint. I’ve seen and met those who are developing new businesses and bringing growth and jobs to Flint,” he said. “While there are many challenges in this city, Flint is an example of the best of America. I take pride in being in Flint.”
He said that if he were elected, his administration would increase “access to capital” for entrepreneurs who want to start businesses in places like Flint, and said he hopes to bring that message to the debate stage next week in Detroit.
Asked about the significance of Michigan for the next presidential campaign against President Trump, he said “I think all states matter. I wouldn’t concede a single state” in the upcoming election.
O’Rourke was welcomed by a number of local business leaders, as well as Mayor Karen Weaver. His Flint visit followed a day of campaigning in Detroit, where he was part of a candidate forum at the 110th annual NAACP National Convention.
Banner photo: Beto O’Rourke with fans at the Ferris Wheel (Photo by Paul Rozycki).
EVM political commentator and staff writer Paul Rozycki can be reached at Paul.Rozycki@mcc.edu.