CNN to host Beto O’Rourke town hall in Des Moines


Mia Wang/Iowa State Daily

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas visits Iowa State on Wednesday night at the M-shop. He is also one of the presidential candidates for the year of 2020.In his speech, O’Rourke touches on issues about health insurance, the DACA program and climate change. He stresses Americans needs to be united. “To whom we pray, who we love, where we live. None of that stuff matters as much as the fact we are Americans,” said O’Rourke.

Jake Webster

Beginning with the 2016 presidential election, CNN has hosted televised town halls with presidential hopefuls. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Tex., will make his television town hall debut 9 p.m. Tuesday at Drake University in Des Moines on CNN.

O’Rourke will join more than a dozen of his fellow Democratic contenders in having gone on the network for town halls. Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., had her own CNN town hall in January at Drake.

Having faced criticism for running his campaign with a perceived lack of substance on policy issues, three weeks ago O’Rourke released a proposal to spend $5 trillion to fight climate change. The plan calls for the United States to be a net-zero emitter of carbon by 2050.

These town halls provide an opportunity for candidates to introduce themselves to a national audience and potentially break out of the crowded pack of Democratic candidates polling in the single digits.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a Democrat of South Bend, Ind., got his chance to do so with his own CNN town hall in April. In the wake of his appearance, Buttigieg rose an average of 7% in national polls of the Democratic primary.

O’Rourke, however, starts in a different situation than Buttigieg was in polling. Before his CNN town hall, Buttigieg had a national name recognition of roughly 20%. It stands at 67% today. In the latest public poll measuring name recognition, O’Rourke stands at 75% nationally, with far less room to grow and introduce himself to Americans.

In the latest publicly available poll, O’Rourke has the support of 5% of likely Iowa caucus goers, putting him in sixth place in the state.