Presidential candidate speaks at University of Arkansas campus


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — A Democratic presidential candidate made a stop in Northwest Arkansas as part of his campaign trail.

Beto O’Rourke spoke in front of hundreds Sunday in Fayetteville. Sporting a red Razorback baseball cap, the candidate shared tales of Nolan Richardson, a fellow El Paso native and former Arkansas men’s basketball coach. He and those and attendance called the Hogs before he spoke about issues relevant to the 2020 campaign, including health care, gun violence and President Donald Trump.

“Let us not fool ourselves,” O’Rourke said. “What Donald Trump is giving voice to, what he is inviting into this country right now and into our public life does not just offend our sensibilities, though it does.”

Some in attendance did not agree with O’Rourke’s statements.

“I heard a lot of crap that I don’t believe in,” said Craig Richardson, a protester holding a sign in support of Immigration Customs Enforcement and Trump. “I mean, connecting El Paso to Nolan Richardson was the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. He was fired for playing the race card.”

O’Rourke discussed his solutions to the student loan crisis. He said debt forgiveness for those who perform a public service is a key element in his policy. He said the same principle applies for those who decide not to go to a traditional four-year school.

“I want to make sure that if you want to join an apprenticeship, become a carpenter or an electrician or plumber, you can move on that career path, as well,” O’Rourke said. “And we elevate the power of unions in Arkansas and across this country, so let’s make sure everyone in America can succeed.”

O’Rourke also said he supports universal background checks and red flag laws concerning gun ownership. Arkansas, an open-carry state, has no such laws in place.

“These are human problems that human beings like you and me can solve together,” O’Rourke said. “I think we’ve gotta commit to doing that.”

The candidate stayed to take pictures with those in attendance, and he stayed for two total hours before departing for Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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