Did Beto O'Rourke Make the Right Call by Skipping the Iowa State Fair After El Paso Massacre?

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Beto O’Rourke’s decision to skip the Iowa State Fair--the fried Oreos, world famous butter cow, throngs of voters and horde of media eager to witness would-be presidents flipping pork chops and admiring prize-winning pigs--is actually going over pretty well with Iowans.Along the midway, where O’Rourke was scheduled to arrive Friday morning for a turn on the political soapbox, the consensus was that he was doing the right thing by staying in El Paso, a hometown reeling from a massacre of 22 shoppers at a bustling Walmart.Was he missing an opportunity to gain some traction in Iowa? Probably.Was he doing the right thing anyway? Definitely.Did politics drive his decision to give up a week on the campaign trail to attend memorials and help to comfort a city he represented for six years in Congress? Would everyone running for president take such a risk?“That would tell a lot about their character,” said Des Moines Democrat Shari Giudicessi, 57, after dropping a corn kernel in the jar for one of O’Rourke’s rivals, Pete Buttigieg. “It’s the right thing to do. He should be home with his people.”O’Rourke was stumping in Nevada last Saturday when news alerts hit of a rampage at a Walmart Supercenter. He rushed home, scrapping a visit to California and shredding days of planned appearances.Voters and pundits judge politicians on how they cope with crises during the campaign, personal and political. It’s a window into their instincts, part of the imperfect process of vetting potential presidents, whose days are filled with problems no one could anticipate.Politically, the El Paso rampage posed a challenge to all the candidates. The national conversation inevitably pivoted to gun violence and immigrant-bashing. As a hometown favorite, it was natural for O’Rourke to fly home. For rivals, going to El Paso in the aftermath might look more opportunistic than presidential.On Thursday, O’Rourke crossed into Ciudad Juarez for the funeral of one of the eight Mexican victims.In Des Moines, eight hours after gates opened on Day 1 of the 11-day Iowa fair -- a venue that White House contenders ordinarily dare not skip -- the number of corn kernels in the Texan’s jar didn’t even cover the bottom. Former Vice President Joe Biden held a commanding lead in the "cast your kernel" straw poll.Except in Texas, where he nearly toppled Sen. Ted Cruz last fall and became a national treasure to Democrats, O’Rourke remains mired near the back of the pack of two dozen.  Continue reading...

Copyright The Dallas Morning News
Contact Us