Beto O’Rourke said Friday night that he had been wrong for joking at several events in his first two days campaigning in Iowa that his wife has been raising their three children “sometimes with my help.”
The former congressman from Texas, who launched his bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination Thursday, addressed the remarks during a recording of the podcast Political Party LIVE! in Cedar Rapids. The comments triggered complaints from Democratic operatives and activists, many of them women, that female candidates could never similarly joke about their roles raising their children.
“Not only will I not say that again, but I’ll be more thoughtful going forward in the way that I talk about our marriage, and also the way in which I acknowledge the truth of the criticism that I have enjoyed white privilege,” he said.
He pointed to his ability to walk away from two arrests as a young man without serious consequences as a example.
“So yes, I think the criticism is right on. My ham-handed attempt to try to highlight the fact that Amy has the lion’s share of the burden in our family — that she actually works but is the primary parent in our family, especially when I served in Congress, especially when I was on the campaign trail — should have also been a moment for me to acknowledge that that is far too often the case, not just in politics, but just in life in general. I hope as I have been in some instances part of the problem, I can also be part of the solution,” he said.
It was the second apology O’Rourke made during the podcast. The first was for his writings as a teenager when he was a member of a group of activist hackers. Those writings, which came under the pseudonym “Psychedelic Warlord” and included a piece of fiction from a killer’s point of view, were revealed in a Reuters report.
He said he was “mortified to read it now, incredibly embarrassed … whatever my intention was as a teenager doesn’t matter.”
“I have to look long and hard at my actions, at the language I have used, and I have to constantly try to do better,” he said.
The comments came as O’Rourke responded to a question about how he would combat white supremacy.
O’Rourke criticized President Donald Trump, saying that Mexican and Muslim children “internalize it” when the President attacks them with a broad brush. He also criticized Trump’s response to the violence at a white supremacists’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
“We also have to confront this racism, this xenophobia, this nativism and this hatred, or else I’m confident it will consume us. And so calling it out is part of it, and then setting an example of how we want to treat each other,” he said.