Presidential candidate visits Knoxville

Photo by Emma Skahill/Journal-ExpressPresidential candidate Beto O'Rourke held a town hall meeting June 7 at Peace Tree Brewing in Knoxville.

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke held a town hall meeting at Peace Tree Brewing Company on June 7.

Knoxville was one of nine cities O’Rourke visited over the weekend. The El Paso, Texas native has now visited Iowa five times and traveled to 40 different counties across the state. O’Rourke’s wife, Amy, joined him on the visit to Iowa, marking her first time campaigning in the state.

Ann Fields, chair of the Marion County Democratic Party, introduced O’Rourke as a blank slate.

“Beto wants to hear what rural Iowa and rural America is standing for," Fields said. "He is going from city to city. He wants to hear what we want. He is a blank slate waiting to be filled by our hopes and dreams for the United States.”

Throughout the town hall, O’Rourke discussed his plans for addressing issues such as climate change and gun violence. He spoke about putting farmers in the driver’s seat and placing a greater focus on what is happening in rural America. O’Rourke detailed his plan to enroll 50 million new voters, remove barriers from the ballot box and to create a new voting rights act.

By making these changes, O’Rourke said, “This country would be able to fulfill its potential and its promise. We’re going to be able to make sure that we satisfy the demands of not only this generation here, but so the generation that follows us will be proud of the work we committed to right here in this room, in Knoxville today.”

O’Rourke took questions from the audience, ranging in topics from college affordability to his plans for the United States on an international stage.

“We need to make sure everyone in this country is doing their part,” O’Rourke said. “It is the only way for this country to be an indispensable country, to set the standard for the rest of the world.”

After taking questions from the audience, O’Rourke posed for pictures and shook hands with those who attended the event.

During his visit to Iowa, O’Rourke held town hall meetings across the state and also made an appearance at Capital City Pride Fest in Des Moines, where he participated in the festival’s 5K race. He was among 19 democratic candidates who spoke at the Democratic Hall of Fame in Cedar Rapids on June 9.