Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke took his calls for tough gun laws and inclusive immigration policies to Arizona on Sunday, looking well beyond the early primary states as he campaigned in a conservative but changing region, AP reported.
Looking to break through a crowded field of Democrats, O’Rourke laid out a progressive vision of a country that grants citizenship to young immigrants known as “Dreamers” and treats all immigrants with respect, ABC 15 Arizona writes.
“We’re going to rewrite this country’s immigration laws in our own image,” O’Rourke told an enthusiastic crowd of supporters in Phoenix.
Immigration is a potent issue for Arizona Democrats, particularly among Latino activists who were drawn to politics by their opposition to former Phoenix-area sheriff Joe Arpaio, who’s immigration crackdowns led to a racial profiling verdict against his office. Arpaio’s criminal contempt of court conviction for violating that verdict was erased by a 2017 pardon from President Donald Trump, AP adds.
O’Rourke has leaned heavily on his support for a mandatory buyback of assault rifles. The position has put him at odds with longtime Democratic positioning on guns, which has emphasized keeping firearms from dangerous people without taking weapons away from law-abiding citizens.
“That also means every firearm is registered, every gun owner is licensed, and every AK-47 and AR-15 is bought back so we relieve our fellow Americans of any fear of being gunned down where they are in their schools, in their churches, in their synagogues,” O’Rourke added.
Known as a Republican stronghold, Arizona is emerging as a battleground in the November election thanks to a growing number of Latinos and white suburbanites — groups that have turned against Trump. But with a primary on March 17, weeks after the prize of delegates on Super Tuesday, the state has seen little of the Democrats seeking their party’s nomination.
O’Rourke told reporters he’s campaigning outside the early primary states because traveling off the beaten path worked for him in his 2018 Senate run, when he did better than Democrats historically perform in Texas but lost to Republican Senator Ted Cruz.