/Beto O’Rourke not fazed by weak poll numbers

Beto O’Rourke not fazed by weak poll numbers

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke and Matt Russell. an Iowa farmer

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke talks with Matt Russell, left, whiles touring his Coyote Run Farm in Lacona, Iowa. | Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke defended his low standing in a newly released Iowa poll by saying it doesn’t “describe the full picture.”

The former Texas congressman was backed by 2 percent of those surveyed in the poll that was released Saturday night.

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“You know, I don’t know that this many months out from the caucuses in Iowa that these polls really indicate what our prospects are,” O’Rourke told George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC’s “This Week.” “If I relied on polls in any race that I’d run, I never would have been able to serve in the United States Congress.”

Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom survey of likely Iowa caucus-goers had former Vice President Joe Biden in first place with 24 percent, with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg bunched closely from 14 to 16 percent. California Sen. Kamala Harris, at 7 percent, was the only other candidate in the jam-packed Democratic field above 2 percent.

O’Rourke acknowledged that he could “do a much better job” of engaging a national audience, but his campaign strength comes from his town hall appearances, and volunteers knocking on doors, canvassing and calling potential supporters.

“Certainly I can do more of that, but again I think the fundamentals of this campaign, meeting people, being with them, showing up with the courage of our convictions,” he said.

When asked about President Donald Trump’s newly announced agreement with Mexico, O’Rourke said Trump “has completely overblown what he purports to have achieved.” Trump had threatened to impose tariffs on Mexico if Mexico failed to prevent Central American migrants from coming to the U.S. border.

“They might have accelerated the timetable, but, by and large, the president achieved nothing except to jeopardize the most important trading relationship that the United States of America has,” he said.

“We need a leader in this country who’s going to make sure that we fight for those farmers for the American workers, that we strengthen our ties with Mexico and that we secure our connection with the rest of the world, not through walls or putting kids in cages,” O’Rourke continued.

When prompted about former Vice President Joe Biden’s shift in his position on the Hyde Amendment, O’Rourke said “it is very hard for me to believe that we could ever produce a nominee who would not believe in a woman’s right to choose and the ability to stand — and — and the mandate for us to stand with women in each and every instance.” (The Hyde Amendment, named for the late Rep. Henry Hyde, is a legislative provision barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortion.)

“I can just tell you that I’ve always known what I’ve thought on this issue, that every single woman in this country should be able to make her own decisions about her own body,” he said.

Despite Biden’s shift in his position on the Hyde Amendment last week, O’Rourke said that he wouldn’t shift his position on key policies even if the Democratic Party shifts.

“I am who I am,” he said. “I’m certainly showing up and listening to people and learning from them in every community, but I’m also showing up with the courage of my convictions, the things that I strongly believe in.”

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