Robert O’Rourke repeated his calls for the impeachment of President Donald Trump and a mandatory gun buyback program on Saturday.
O’Rourke, who has long supported impeachment, applauded U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement Tuesday that the U.S. House would begin an impeachment inquiry.
Pelosi, D-Calif., launched the inquiry after a whistleblower complaint, since made public, alleged that Trump pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
“Beyond the shadow of a doubt, we now know that the president must be impeached,” O’Rourke said, speaking at the Paramount Theatre during The Texas Tribune Festival. “I’m cautiously optimistic about the path that we’re on now.”
O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso, pointed to Trump’s comments about immigrants and Muslims as another example of why he should not be in office.
“There is more than enough there to reach the conclusion that he is unfit for office,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke announced his presidential bid on the heels of a close U.S. Senate race — losing by 2.6 percentage points — against incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
He pointed to that election, which also saw 12 GOP-held Texas House seats flip to Democrats, as reason to elect him president.
“I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people and the rest of the country,” O’Rourke said, adding that he feels confident in early voting states and even better about winning Texas’ 38 electoral votes. “If you are looking for a way to defeat Donald Trump, that way is the state of Texas.”
But O’Rourke has consistently polled in the low single digits in recent months. Still, he appears to have enough support to meet the higher thresholds to qualify for the November debate. Earlier this month, a national Fox News poll placed O’Rourke at 4%.
When asked if he has enough money to stay in the race until Iowa, O’Rourke said he’s “in this thing until the very end. I’m in all the way.”
He also revisited his mandatory gun buyback proposal. O’Rourke made headlines at this month’s presidential debate, when he responded to a question about whether his idea to enact a mandatory buyback program for assault-style rifles is akin to gun confiscation.
“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” he said on the debate stage.
Republicans criticized the declaration, while some Democrats worried that the issue could hurt Democratic prospects in 2020 — allowing Republicans to use the plan as a way to take aim at broader gun proposals.
He hasn’t shied away from the comment, repeating his call to buyback assault weapons on Saturday.
“You cannot reach any other conclusion other than those weapons should be bought back, brought back home,” he said.
And recent national polling shows support for requiring owners of assault-style rifles to turn in their guns.
A Washington Post-ABC poll before the September debate found that 52% of respondents support a mandatory federal buyback program, which broke down to 74% of Democrats, half of independents and a third of Republicans. Even more — 56% — support banning the sale of assault weapons.
A UT-Tyler online poll released after the debate found that 49% of Texans supported a mandatory buyback program. The survey drew from a sample of 1,199 registered voters during a three-day period after the debate, with a margin of error plus or minus 2.8 percentage points. Roughly 28% opposed a buyback program, and 13% had a neutral opinion.
“The right thing at the end of the day is to bring these guns back home,” he told the crowd. “Let’s do the right thing while we have time to do the right thing.”
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