- Beto O’Rourke was criticised for making an off-the-cuff remark about his wife doing most of the child-rearing work at his first campaign stop in Keokuk, Iowa.
- “I just got a call from my wife, Amy, who is back in El Paso, Texas where she is raising, sometimes with my help, Ulysses who is 12, Molly who is 10, and their little brother Henry who is 8 years old,” he said.
- In a Democratic primary with a record number of female candidates and candidates of colour, issues of identity are already the forefront of the debate.
Just a few hours after announcing his 2020 presidential campaign, Beto O’Rourke was criticised for making an off-the-cuff remark about his wife doing most of the work at his first campaign stop in Keokuk, Iowa.
“I just got a call from my wife, Amy, who is back in El Paso, Texas where she is raising, sometimes with my help, Ulysses who is 12, Molly who is 10, and their little brother Henry who is 8 years old,” O’Rourke said.
“Even though this is the first day, I miss them terribly but I’ll tell you this, it is those kids and your kids and it is your grandkids and the generations that follow that push us out into the country to do this incredibly important work together,” he added.
Almost immediately, commentators seized on O’Rourke’s comments as exposing a double standard between how male and female political candidates are scrutinised for their parenting approaches.
“The idea that a woman could EVER, even in self-deprecating conscious acknowledgment, joke about how she’s ‘helping’ to raise her kids, is inconceivable…he gets space that women are denied,” feminist author and New York Magazine writer Rebecca Traister wrote in a series of tweets.
Commentators similarly argued that O’Rourke’s lengthy solo road trip across the country following his unsuccessful 2018 challenge to Texas Senator Ted Cruz was a privilege that a female politician could not enjoy.
In a CNN op-ed titled, “Beto’s excellent adventure drips with white male privilege,” reporter Nia-Malika Henderson wrote that “Jack Kerouac-style, he roams around, jobless (does he not need a job?) to find himself and figure out if he wants to lead the free world. This is a luxury no woman or even minority in politics could ever have.”
Both O’Rourke and his wife Amy are independently wealthy. Amy’s father, Bill Sanders, is a renowned real estate giant with an estimated net worth of $US500 million, according to Forbes.
Vanity Fair reported that O’Rourke’s mother gave him partial ownership over the furniture store she once owned, which closed in 2010 after it was fined for alleged tax fraud – a charge denied by both O’Rourke and his mother. The magazine said O’Rourke’s net worth is around $US9 million.
In a Democratic primary with more female candidates and candidates of colour than ever before, issues of identity are already the forefront of the debate.
Fellow presidential contender Sen. Kamala Harris, who is planning a trip to Texas next week, sent out a fundraising email with the subject line “Beto O’Rourke” pointing out the “unprecedented” number of Democrats in the field, “including a record number of women and people of colour.”
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