Beto O’Rourke’s first official campaign swing morphed into an apology tour less than 48 hours after he announced his plan to run for president.
The former congressman from Texas apologized Friday for jokes he made about his marriage, his teen hobbies, and his “white privilege” in the wake of criticism from Democratic activists who griped about the outsized attention O’Rourke had received in the media.
“I’ll be more thoughtful going forward in the way that I talk about our marriage,” O’Rourke promised in a podcast taped in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, referring to his campaign-trail comment that his wife Amy has raised their three children “sometimes with my help.”
It was the second apology for O’Rourke since he entered the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday.
On Friday, he admitted that he had joined a well-known computer hacking group as a teenager and wrote a fictional piece describing the murder of two children.
“Not anything that I’m proud of today,” he told the Texas Tribune. “I’m mortified to read it now, incredibly embarrassed.”
O’Rourke, who shattered fundraising records in his failed bid to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) in 2018, entered the race this week with a cover story in Vanity Fair in which he declared his White House run by saying “I want to be in it. Man, I’m just born to be in it.”
“Not one woman got that kind of coverage,” complained Mary Anne Marsh, a Democratic political consultant, to Politico, pointing to O’Rourke’s Vanity Fair interview, complete with Annie Liebovitz photos.
The turmoil hints at the challenges that other white male candidates – especially Joe Biden, who is widely expected to join the scrum soon – could face in uniting the party.