After an unsuccessful but hard-fought, grassroots-driven longshot bid to unseat Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Beto O’Rourke is running for president in 2020. In a video posted to his Twitter feed, the 46-year-old father of three young children and former Texas Democratic congressman from El Paso announced that he is not going to vie for John Cornyn’s Senate seat, but is instead gunning for the White House, entering a crowded field of Democratic contenders that include Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kristen Gillibrand, and many more.
In O’Rourke’s announcement video, his wife, Amy, sat by his side the entire time, silently smiling as he recited, “Amy and I are happy to share with you that I’m running to serve you as the next president of the United State of America.” As some on Twitter noted, it wasn’t a great look to have her there like “a silent prop” standing by her man while he runs for the highest office in the land.
It would be a slightly tone-deaf campaign kickoff for any candidate, but particularly so for a supposedly progressive candidate like O’Rourke, who is running against several more qualified female candidates.
If you’re going to fight the clampdown, is it a good idea to levy your privilege as a good-looking, wealthy, white man to say things others couldn’t or shouldn’t say? For argument’s sake, here are five things Beto has said that a female candidate would never be able to get away with:
- “Sometimes I call and can hear the exasperation in her voice,” O’Rourke sighed, according to Texas Monthly. The same article mentioned that when he told his wife that he was going to run for Congress, “she just immediately started crying. It was so hurtful to her.” Another highlight, “I’m physically not there anymore. When a gate falls on Henry, Amy’s like, ‘It would be nice if you were here.'”
- This exchange from Vanity Fair: “Henry, age eight, weighs in from the back of the Toyota Tundra. ‘Dad, if you run for president, I’m going to cry all day.’ ‘Just the one day?’ asks O’Rourke, hopefully. ‘Every day,’ says Henry.” In that same article, O’Rourke said he was “just born to be in” the 2020 presidential race.
- “For the last seven years, my family hasn’t seen me. I haven’t been there for them, I haven’t helped Amy in raising these amazing kids in any significant, consistent way,” he told Oprah during a SuperSoul conversation in February.
- “Maybe I’d been hoping for some kind of connection that day and hadn’t found it,” he wrote in a Medium post, from Ulysses, Kansas. “I called Amy. Kids were in the car, she was a little distracted, we didn’t connect either. Maybe you could meet people at a bar she said as we hung up.”
- According to Washington Post reporter Matt Viser, O’Rourke told a crowd that his wife “is raising, sometimes with my help,” their three kids. As journalists Andi Zeisler and Rebecca Traister pointed out on Twitter, if a female candidate joked about “helping” to raise her kids it would not fly—and it shouldn’t for O’Rourke, either.
Imagine the reaction if a female presidential candidate made this kind of lighthearted, self-deprecating joke about parenting. https://t.co/XoUNrwZsSY
— andi zeisler (@andizeisler) March 14, 2019
I like that Beto talks about his wife like she's a high school friend he enjoys running into at coffee shops, whereas I, A Human Mother, am a bad person if I can't spend 10 hours a day coloring and running flash cards while also putting in 80 un-distracted hours a week at my job https://t.co/LlSG5PAhpD
— Sady Doyle (@sadydoyle) March 14, 2019