TRANSCRIPT: Beto O'Rourke in Atlantic, Iowa 5/6/2019

Hi friends,

No news made here, but the section on climate change includes a story that may be of interest to some of you covering flooding, and there was a nice Cinco de Mayo moment. The following is a transcript of Beto O’Rourke’s campaign stop in Atlantic, Iowa, on 5/5/2019.

-- Marcus


Perfect pronunciation. Sherry, thank you for having me out, welcoming us to your community, bringing all these great people together on one of the most beautiful days of my 46 and a half years on this planet. We are in love with Southwest Iowa. We began this morning in -- we’re good -- volume -- in Shenandoah and -- and then continued on to Red Oak. And we're now here in Atlantic, and the drive along the way, the fields, the trees, everything in bloom, the homes and especially the people that we met along the way, just made this one of the best days ever.

So thank you for being a part of it. And thank you for welcoming us to your community. We're grateful to be here. Huge honor.

So I want to begin by -- by wishing you a happy Cinco de Mayo. This is the day that we celebrate the Battle of Puebla. The First Battle of Puebla in 1862.

This is where the forces of President Benito Juarez defeated the imperialist forces of Napoleon III who was invading Mexico. And one of the things that you may not know about what followed after that battle that I just recently learned, is that Benito Juarez, after the Second Battle of Puebla, which the Mexicans lost -- left the capital and came up north to the very northernmost parts of Chihuahua, our bordering state in Texas, and in a community called Paso del Norte, set up a provisional government and headquarters to fight the imperialist French.

He later moves out of Paso del Norte. The Mexicans ultimately win that long war… reassert their their independence. But in the 1880s, they rename that community -- which had been called Paso del Norte or Paso el Norte to Ciudad Juarez.

Now, Ciudad Juarez is the sister city of my hometown of El Paso we stole the name from the former Paso del Norte. And our two cities on the Chihuahuan side and Texas side of the U.S.-Mexico border, joined -- not separated -- by the Rio Grande River, are home to 3 million from these two countries, speaking two languages, with these two different histories and cultures, forming something far greater, far more powerful than the sum of their parts, or the number of people involved.

And that city's history goes all the way back to Cinco de Mayo in 1862, which I thought was fascinating. And as I was researching the history of Atlantic, your community, I saw that you were founded in 1868. So not too long after those events of Cinco de Mayo. And I read -- and you'll have to tell me if this is true. As we would say in El Paso [speaking Spanish] your town was named Atlantic because it is halfway between the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans and your city's founders flipped a coin to decide which name you would choose. Is that true?

[crowd says yes]

That's a pretty good story. Whether or not it's true. But it's -- it's great to be here with you and to share this day with you and to share in our democracy at one of the most defining moments in American history. The -- the range of challenges that we face are the greatest of our lifetimes. I don't care how young or how old you are.

Tens of millions, unable to see a doctor or afford prescription medication in the wealthiest, the most powerful country on the face of the planet that does not want for resources or medical technology. We have people in the year 2019 being consumed by diabetes, by the flu, by curable cancers, all that we lack is the political will to decide that every single one of us should be able to see a physician, afford our medications, go to a mental health care provider, make our own choices about our own bodies and invest in one another so that we can live to our full potential. That's how we read that [inaudible]. Right?

We got an economy that is going gangbusters for a few people in this country.

At a time of historic wealth, and income inequality, the greatest sense -- the last Gilded Age of the late 19th century -- you have folks in this country, working two and three jobs just to make ends meet.

Increasingly, that includes school teachers and public school educators, who I would argue already have the most important job in front of them. Unlocking that lifelong love of learning that resides within every single child.

If we can do that. There's no stopping In that kid, and there's no stopping us as a country. So why do we pay school teachers and cafeteria workers and school bus drivers and counselors and librarians a fraction of what they are worth and what they need to be able to survive on one job. What if we met that challenge? By deciding that we were going to pay teachers and public school educators a living wage, that we're going to invest in a world class system, a public school education that begins not at five or four years old in kindergarten, where -- get this -- some of you may know this -- I just learned some kids on the first day of kindergarten are 10 months back in reading comprehension, 12 months back in math, and I guarantee you, they will almost never catch up.

There's never a moment to press pause and catch up to everybody else, they are behind for the rest of their lives. If we invested in universal pre-K starting that education, not at four or five, but three or four, we move the starting line back so everyone has an even chance at success in their lives.

Does not come cheap, will not be easy. But it is something if we set our minds to we can make that investment that will produce returns for the lifetime of that child of their family, and of this country, we can meet the challenge.

We can meet the challenge of a system of immigration, that today seems to deny our history and our heritage that this country -- unique amongst the nations of the world -- is not defined by race, or ethnicity, or common genealogy.

It's this idea, 243 years and counting that we were all created equal, to equal opportunity, equal chance to reveal our genius to ourselves, to our families, to one another into this great country, comprised of people who can trace their family line, back 10,000 years to this country, they crossed the Bering Strait or more than 300 years they crossed in the holds of slave ship, kidnapped from countries in West Africa to literally build the wealth of this country, they are the O’Rourke’s, from the 19th century, fleeing famine in Ireland, coming to the one place that would take them in and relieve them of a future that might include death, a death that claimed more than 1 million people on that island alone from the potato famine, or those who are showing up today.

They've traveled 2000 miles by foot, if they're lucky, atop, not inside, of a train called the beast, or La Bestia. Now think about this: what would compel you to scoop up your baby girl, your little boy, and make that 2000 mile journey? It's not because you're a bad person, or a loafer, or you're trying to steal something from me or somebody else in this country. Nobody makes a 2000 mile journey with a kid. I have a hard time making a one-mile journey with my kids -- unless you have to do that, and it's the only way that you have any hope of saving their lives.

The northern tribal countries of Central America, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, are among the most violent, most brutal places, on the face of the planet today. When you compound that, with food insecurity that is a product of climate change, historic droughts never seen in the northern triangle until now, you produce the conditions that would cause a parent just like you just like me to make that journey -- 2000 miles -- or to send their kid on a company.

Two weeks ago, they just found a three year old boy in a cornfield outside of Brownsville, Texas, alone, with a phone number written in permanent marker on his shoe. Now, I wouldn't send one of my kids out alone, unless I thought that was the only way we were going to be able to save their lives. Our system of immigration, our system of handling these asylum seekers, which -- right now means that we put them in cages -- deport their moms back to the country from which they fled, separate those families, God only knows where some of those kids are now, visiting a cruelty and a torture on them that I hope we will only ever be able to imagine, because we will never experience it.

That's what this country of immigrants and asylum seekers and refugees is doing right now. We have the opportunity to meet this challenge, not only by making sure that we no longer separate these families, making sure that we reunite those who have been [inaudible], but rewriting this country's immigration laws in our own image to look like us -- where we are here in Atlantic, Iowa, where I live in El Paso, Texas, to make sure that those living in the shadows, more than a million DREAMers brought here at a young age, through no fault of their own, now contributing in every way measurable and immeasurable to the success of this country. Free them forever from any fear of deportation by making them U.S. citizens in this their true home country.

Bring their parents out of the shadows, those who are working some of the toughest jobs in America. In Iowa, I was just in Storm Lake. And I was talking to a descendant of an immigrant who opened up a bakery. And he was telling me that his family came to storm Lake following the meatpacking jobs, that for whatever reason most people born in Storm Lake are not working. Their families came to do that work, are investing in that community or opening up restaurants like those are raising the next generation that is restoring the vitality of communities like storm lake of Atlantic of my hometown of El Paso.

What if we rewrote our immigration laws to ensure that those who want to work here, contribute to our success, can do so, can come out of the shadows, register and get right with our government, join their families, and contribute to the next generation of the American story?

That's a challenge that we can overcome.

And then perhaps the greatest challenge of them all the fact that this planet has warmed one degree Celsius, just since 1980, over pre-Industrial Revolution levels, one degree Celsius, which has contributed to the flooding that we've seen along the Missouri, there was four times and run off into the Missouri River basin of an average year, in fact, the greatest run off since we've been keeping records of the Missouri River.

I was just in Pacific Junction, talking about Pacific Junction from Atlantic, Iowa, and that town is gone. Every single structure was covered by water. I walked into a house built in 1908. The owners of that house are going to try to salvage whatever they can, but they will not be able to live in that house. Again. It is just absolutely totaled. Will Pacific Junction make it going forward? I don't know.

I met the mayor, Mayor Young. He's gonna do everything within his power, as are the residents there to bring it back.

But it brings the question to us if these floods that we are seeing in Iowa, on the western side of the state, the floods that we're seeing on the eastern side of the Mississippi in Davenport, where we have the highest flood levels, broke the record from 1993, broke every record before it, the greatest rainfall in Houston, Texas, 58 inches of rain fell from the sky, in fact, that is the landfall record from a single storm for as long as we've been keeping them in North America, the wildfires that we just had in California, the worst wildfires that we've ever had in California, these storms, these droughts, these floods, these fires will only get exponentially worse going forward, unless we use the limited time left to us, as scientists say, about 10 years, to change course before it is too late for the generations, the little people who are here with us today, the generations that follow us, their kids, their grandkids are going to be dealing with something far worse, almost hellish relative to anything that we've known in our lives, but we have a chance and in fact, Iowa has led the way in ensuring that we free ourselves from a dependence on fossil fuels, invest in renewable energy and the next generation of technologies that allow us to store the renewable energy that we are generating, help farmers do more, because farmers want to do more. Planting cover crops to capture more of the carbon out of the air, using precision tilling to disturb less of the carbon in the soil, reupping the conservation funds so that we don't have to cultivate every single square inch of acreage for corn or soybean production, and so that we can make sure that we're doing our part that everyone in this country is doing their part at this last defining moment of truth.

And if we do all of that, we can take our rightful role as the indispensable nation, convene the other powers of the planet to do their part as well. And then maybe just maybe we'll be okay for these little guys and gals are with us here today.

Having met that challenge with our confidence, with our courage, with our strength with the American people, regardless of the differences, no me importa, no matter if you're a Democrat, or Republican or independent, live in a small town or a big city, the challenges before us are too great to be defined by our differences.

Instead, going forward, we should be forever known by our ambitions, our aspirations, the work, the service, the sacrifice we're willing to bring to bear in order to achieve them.

That's why I'm here. That's why I hope that you are here. And that's why I'm running to serve you as the next President of the United States of America. Thank you for having me out.