Beto O'Rourke says he'll likely pick a woman as his vice presidential running mate after being criticized for joking about his lack of parenting

Beto O'RourkeBeto O'Rourke speaks to supporters in Iowa on Friday, March 15.Ben Brewer/Reuters

  • Beto O'Rourke, who announced his 2020 presidential bid last Friday, said he would very likely pick a woman as his vice presidential running mate if he's chosen as the Democratic nominee. 
  • "It would be very difficult not to select a woman with so many extraordinary women who are running right now," the former congressman told reporters over the weekend. 
  • This comes after O'Rourke faced widespread criticism for remarking that his wife has raised their three children, "sometimes with my help." 

Beto O'Rourke, who announced his 2020 presidential bid last Friday, said he would very likely pick a woman as his vice presidential running mate if he's chosen as the Democratic nominee. 

The El Paso, Texas Democrat paused for a moment after a voter asked him whether he'd select a female running mate at a campaign stop in Iowa over the weekend. 

"It's hard for me to think of a reason that I would not do that ... that would be my preference," he replied. But he added, "Talking about who I would pick as vice president just feels really premature." 

Soon after he was asked by reporters about his potential VP pick, and he gave a similar answer. 

"It would be very difficult not to select a woman with so many extraordinary women who are running right now," O'Rourke said, according to the Dallas News. "But first I would have to win and there's - you know, this is as open as it has ever been."

Sen. Cory Booker, another 2020 candidate, said last month that he would "be looking to women first" in selecting his running mate.

Six women, including four senators, are already in the 2020 race: Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar. Self-help guru Marianne Williamson and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii are also declared candidates.

O'Rourke faced some criticism recently when he remarked on Friday that his wife, Amy, is raising their three children, "sometimes with my help." The remark, which elicited laughs at the Iowa event, was widely panned online, as critics pointed out that female candidates may not be celebrated for doing little to raise their children. 

He apologized for those comments, which he called "ham-handed" and said he'll be "much more thoughtful" about the "privileges" he's been afforded on account of his gender and race.  

"It's absolutely valid criticism, and it's constructive criticism - it has already made me a better candidate," O'Rourke said. "Not only will I not say that again, but I'll be much more thoughtful going forward in the way I talk about our marriage and also the way in which I acknowledge the truth of the criticism that I have enjoyed white privilege."

Read more: Beto O'Rourke says he has enjoyed 'privileges' in his life as a white man

O'Rourke told Oprah Winfrey in a February conversation that he's done little to raise his three kids, who are 12, 10, and 8 years old, since he began his three terms in Congress. 

"For the last seven years, my family hasn't seen me," he told Winfrey. "I haven't been there for them, I haven't helped Amy in raising these amazing kids in any significant, consistent way." 

On Sunday, O'Rourke elaborated on his own privilege in an interview with NBC News' Chuck Todd.

"As a white man who has had privileges that others could not depend on, or take for granted, I've clearly had advantages over the course of my life," O'Rourke said. "I think recognizing that and understanding that others have not, doing everything I can to ensure that there is opportunity and the possibility for advancement and advantage for everyone, is a big part of this campaign."

 

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