At a campaign event Tuesday at Penn State University, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke fielded a question from a woman who took a swipe at his website, his support from “notorious mega-bundler” Louis Susman, and demanded to know: “When are we going to get an actual policy from you instead of platitudes and nice stories?”
The woman, seen off-camera in a video by America Rising PAC, started off speaking in Spanish, asking the candidate how he was doing: “Que tal, Beto?”
He responded in Spanish, “Mucho gusto. Es un placer estar aqui con ustedes.” (It’s a pleasure to be here with you.)
She congratulated him on his $6.1 million fundraising haul in the first 24 hours after he announced he’s running for president.
But then she dug into him, insinuating that the campaign had raised the large amount so quickly through bundlers and their millionaire and billionaire friends, and that the campaign had used the process to “over-inflate” its first-day totals.
“For those of you who don’t know,” she said, “bundling is a process in which political activists and people in the private sector and lobbyists, go to wealthy multimillionaires and billionaires and basically tell them to give the maximum, which is anywhere from $2,700 to $5,600, and basically use it to sort of over-inflate a campaigner’s, you know, their first-day totals. For example, just 1,000 people giving the maximum $5,600, that’s $5.6 million right off the bat.”
Beto O’Rourke’s campaign, she noted, had not released the number of contributors who contributed to the $6.1 million raised, or the average donation amount.
“Now, I’m not accusing you of that but the fact that your campaign is currently working with notorious mega-bundler Louis Susman gives me a bit of a clue,” she said. “In addition, when we look on your website, we don’t really see anything in terms of a solid platform for policies. It’s mostly just platitudes and a merch store.”
She ended by asking him when the campaign was going to release information on the number of donors and the average donation, and when he was going to state his policies on issues, saying: “When are we going to get an actual policy from you instead of platitudes and nice stories?”
O’Rourke responded by saying he hadn’t taken any money from political action committees or lobbyists, and said his campaign would release information on the average donation and the number of donors.
In answer to the complaint about the lack of stated policies, O’Rourke said that he’d called for expunging the criminal records of everyone who’d been arrested for possession of marijuana and said he supports Medicare for All, while ensuring that people who have employment-based health care coverage can keep it. He also said he’d push for paying teachers “a living wage” and for universal pre-school, whereby public schooling would start for all children at age 4.
O’Rourke didn’t respond to the criticism of his website, which, as the questioner at Penn State noted, contains no statements of policy.
The main page of the website has a large picture of O’Rourke with a Hispanic child and a black side panel at left with three words in white, all caps: “BETO FOR AMERICA.”
Another page then emerges, with a photo of the candidate in a blue shirt, with a drop of sweat rolling down the side of his face, and at right, a sign-up form for those interested in getting involved in the campaign.
At bottom, there are four links: Shop, Jobs, Donate, and Contact. The shop link takes you to a store that sells Beto campaign merchandise, all of it in black and white. Yard signs are $15 and say only: BETO for America.
Hats are all black, with only BETO in capital letters in white.
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