Beto O’Rourke—who announced his White House bid last week—said if he were to win the Democratic nomination for president, he would pick a woman as a vice presidential running mate.
The 46-year-old Democrat, who ran an unsuccessful Texas Senate campaign against incumbent Ted Cruz last year, was in Iowa for a campaign stop over the weekend when a voter asked if he would pick a female running mate.
“It’s hard for me to think of a reason that I would not do that … that would be my preference,” Mr O’Rourke replied.
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However, the El Paso, Texas native said it is too early to start mulling over a vice presidential pick.
“Talking about who I would pick as vice president just feels really premature,” he added.
The question over selecting a female running mate prompted reporters to ask Mr O’Rourke similar enquiries. The 2020 presidential candidate had a similar answer.
“It would be very difficult not to select a woman with so many extraordinary women who are running right now,” Mr O’Rourke said, referring to the long list of female presidential candidates including Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar.”But first I would have to win and there’s — you know, this is as open as it has ever been.”
Mr O’Rourke is not the only presidential candidate expressing their preference for a female running mate. Senator Cory Booker, another candidate vying for the White House in 2020, said last month he would ‘be looking to women first.’
The Democratic presidential candidate received backlash last week for what some people considered to be a sexist, or insensitive, remark regarding his wife Amy.
On Friday, Mr O’Rourke joked that his wife is raising their three children “sometimes with my help” to a crowd in Iowa. While audience members laughed, some critics online pointed out that female candidates might have been scrutinised for doing little to raise their kids.
The Texas Democrat quickly apologised for his remark, calling it “ham-handed” and promised to be “more thoughtful” about the “privileges” he obtains as a white man.
“It’s absolutely valid criticism, and it’s constructive criticism — it has already made me a better candidate,” Mr O’Rourke said, referring to the backlash for his quip. “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.”