Beto O'Rourke says comments about wife were "ham-handed"

/ CBS/AP

O'Rourke on why he changed his mind on 2020

2020 Democratic hopful Beto O'Rourke said Friday night that the criticisms of his "ham-handed" comments about his wife were "right on." "Not only will I not say that again, but I will be much more thoughtful in the ways that I talk about my marriage," he said.

During a taping of the "Political Party Live" podcast in Cedar Rapids, he addressed criticism of his campaign-trail joke that his wife, Amy, has raised their three kids "sometimes with my help." O'Rourke made the comment at multiple campaign stops during his first swing through Iowa, including earlier Friday, eliciting laughs each time, but he also drew criticism as being insensitive to the challenges faced by single parents raising children.

O'Rourke told "CBS This Morning" co-anchor Gayle King in an interview that aired Friday morning that as he and his wife came close to making the decision if he should run for president, the "best decision" was made by his wife.

"She said, 'There are lots of people who are talkin' about us doin' lots of different things. Let's instead of trying to figure that out right now, just spend some time as a family' … That's really what we did," O'Rourke said.

Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, 46, speaks with supporters during a three day road trip across Iowa, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S., March 15, 2019. BEN BREWER / REUTERS

He said his children would often offer "unsolicited" advice about running for president.

"Unsolicited. And I honestly did not expect that. But I think they're just as sensitive to what's going on in the world right now," O'Rourke said. "They understand that they will inherit the consequences of the choices that you and I make at this moment. And they're counting on us to make the right ones."

O'Rourke, 46, also said he was "mortified" when he reread the violent fiction he wrote as a teen, which received fresh attention Friday after a Reuters report outlined his involvement in a hacker group as a teen. O'Rourke wrote a handful of posts on the group's message board under the name "Psychedelic Warlord," including a fictional piece he penned when he was 15 about children getting run over by a car.

"I'm mortified to read it now, incredibly embarrassed, but I have to take ownership of my words," he said. "Whatever my intention was as a teenager doesn't matter, I have to look long and hard at my actions, at the language I have used, and I have to constantly try to do better."

O'Rourke had said after an earlier campaign stop that it was "stuff I was part of as a teenager."

Beto O'Rourke: Medicare for All is "one of the possible paths" to fix health care

"It's not anything I'm proud of today, and I mean, that's – that's the long and short of it," he said. "All I can do is my best, which is what I'm trying to do. I can't control anything I've done in the past. I can only control what I do going forward and what I plan to do is give this my best."

The comments came on the second day of a presidential campaign in which O'Rourke is seeking to establish himself as a unique voice in the race. He avoided what has become something of a tradition among the 2020 contenders by refusing to announce how much money he raised in the 24 hours after announcing his candidacy. He said it would be soon.

"I don't have a definite plan," he added. "We're not ready to release them now."

The former Texas congressman entered the 2020 presidential race Thursday after months of speculation. He raised an eye-popping $80 million in grassroots donations last year in his failed U.S. Senate race in Texas against Republican Ted Cruz, all while largely avoiding money from political action committees. His early fundraising numbers will be an initial signal of whether his popularity during the Senate campaign will carry over to his White House bid.

So far, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has set the pace for grassroots donations in 2020, pulling in $6 million during his first day as a candidate.

Asked if he thought he would top Sanders, O'Rourke said only, "We'll see."

O'Rourke's reception during his first Iowa swing was overwhelmingly positive, even as he launched his campaign by hitting a handful of counties that had shifted from supporting Democrat Barack Obama to backing Republican Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign.

Most of the towns O'Rourke visited during his first two days in the state were small and rural, manufacturing or farming towns. He kicked off his bid in Keokuk, population 10,300, dropped by a private home in Fairfield, a town about the same size, and jumped atop a coffee shop counter to address the crowd in Mount Pleasant, population 8,500.

The strategy set O'Rourke apart from the rest of the field, many of whom have focused their early swings on the state's population centers or on the traditionally blue counties that make up the bulk of the Democratic primary electorate.

Norm Sterzenbach, who's advising O'Rourke in Iowa, said the strategy came out of the Texan's desire to do more intimate events in his first swing through Iowa.

"He didn't want to do big rallies or big events. He wanted to get into communities and really talk to Iowans, and he wanted to go to smaller towns, smaller communities, and . places that had been neglected" by politicians, he said.

It was an approach reminiscent of his Texas Senate bid, where O'Rourke hit every one of the state's 254 counties, even the most rural areas, some of which hadn't been visited by Democratic candidates in years. O'Rourke didn't commit to visiting all of Iowa's 99 counties – what's locally known as the "Full Grassley," after Iowa's senior Republican senator, Chuck Grassley, who's famous for doing the full swing – but he said he planned to visit as much of Iowa as possible.

That go-everywhere, speak-to-everyone strategy brought him within 3 points of defeating Cruz in Texas, the nation's largest red state.

First published on March 16, 2019 / 1:08 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke speaks with supporters during a three day road trip across Iowa

L.A. DA to investigate horse deaths at Santa Anita racetrack

The demand for an investigation comes after 22 horses acquired fatal injuries​ since Dec. 26

1H ago

W.S. Merwin, former U.S. poet laureate, dies at 91

Merwin wrote rhymes and blank verse, a brief report on the month of January and a book-length story in verse about colonialism and the birth of modern Hawaii

2H ago

Businessman charged in college admissions scam pleads not guilty

David Sidoo is accused of paying $200,000 to have someone take a college entrance exam in place of his two sons

3H ago

Jury deadlocks on North Miami cop who shot unarmed caretaker

The six-person jury found North Miami police officer Jonathan Aledda not guilty Friday of culpable negligence

5H ago

The U.S. has 1 million more job openings than unemployed workers

Employers posted 7.6 million open jobs in January, close to November's record, signaling businesses are still hiring

6H ago

Beto O'Rourke says comments about wife were "ham-handed"

O'Rourke also said he was "mortified" when he reread the violent fiction he wrote as a teen, which was uncovered in a Reuters report

12M ago

Bernie Sanders' campaign becomes the first-ever to unionize

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 will represent them as their exclusive bargaining representative, according to the campaign

7H ago

Iowa's Ernst says farmers could "turn quickly" against Trump

Sen. Joni Ernst spoke about trade, her relationship with the president and friendships across the aisle

7H ago

Trump issues first-ever veto over national emergency rejection

Twelve Republicans voted against the president's decision for a 59-41 vote Thursday

8H ago

Trump deletes Breitbart link following New Zealand attack

The president had tweeted a link to the homepage of Breitbart News which featured the interview, then deleted that tweet after the New Zealand attacks

12H ago

49 dead, dozens more injured in New Zealand mosque shootings

Australian-born suspect who apparently livestreamed part of the attack has been charged with murder in Christchurch

53M ago

Foreigners among those killed and wounded in New Zealand mosque attacks

Several were from the Middle East or South Asia, according to reports from governments

8H ago

New Zealand shooting puts grim focus on social media

An alleged gunman in New Zealand apparently livestreamed the attack and posted a manifesto online

8H ago

New Zealand shooter's rifles covered in white supremacist symbols

Man seen in livestreamed video of mosque massacre even listened to music embraced by anti-Muslim movement online

13H ago

Students worldwide skip school to demand tough action on climate change

Youth climate strike is mobilizing students from the South Pacific to the edge of the Arctic Circle

13H ago

Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin delete social media accounts

Weeks before being charged, Huffman tweeted a "throwback" photo with William H. Macy calling him her "partner in crime"

5H ago

James Gunn brought back to direct "Guardians of the Galaxy 3"

Months after being fired over old tweets, James Gunn has been rehired as director of "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3"

8H ago

HBO plans super-sized "Game of Thrones" episodes

Our watch is coming to an end

10H ago

Lilly Singh gets late-night show on NBC

She's an Indian-Canadian woman who is bisexual – unlike any other late-night host

12H ago

Rosario Dawson confirms she's dating Cory Booker

Some fans are excited that "first lady Rosario Dawson" may be a possibility

16H ago

Apple owes Qualcomm $31 million for patent infringement, jury rules

Qualcomm and Apple have been sparring over who invented key technology used in many mobile devices

7H ago

New Zealand shooting puts grim focus on social media

An alleged gunman in New Zealand apparently livestreamed the attack and posted a manifesto online

8H ago

Facebook launches AI tool to remove "revenge porn"

Users currently must report inappropriate images, which slows the process of pulling them off the site

14H ago

Standoff between eagle and squirrel goes viral

The photographer tells CBS News the squirrel was a mother defending its babies – and she persevered

14H ago

Facebook, YouTube trying to rein in footage of New Zealand mosque shooting

Unverified footage as well as posts of praise or support for the crime are being removed from Facebook and other social media sites

17H ago

Start kids' swimming lessons at 1 year old, safety experts say

It only takes seconds for a child to drown​. Parents can help protect their kids with these tips

8H ago

Food banks among recipients of Butterball turkey recalled in salmonella outbreak

At least half a dozen people in three states sickened by bacteria: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

11H ago

Are eggs bad for your heart? Experts weigh new findings

A new, large study suggests it may be time to re-evaluate dietary guidelines on eggs and cholesterol

14H ago

Surprise medical bills: How to ease the shock

Out-of-network providers can sock you with unexpected expenses, but there are steps to make sure you don't get hit

18H ago

Every 10 minutes a child goes to the ER for medicine poisoning

Many parents are underestimating their kids' ability to get their hands on dangerous medications​

Mar 14

The U.S. has 1 million more job openings than unemployed workers

Employers posted 7.6 million open jobs in January, close to November's record, signaling businesses are still hiring

6H ago

Apple owes Qualcomm $31 million for patent infringement, jury rules

Qualcomm and Apple have been sparring over who invented key technology used in many mobile devices

7H ago

New beer uses ingredient from 1886 shipwreck

Brewer retrieved yeast from intact beer bottles on the SS Oregon, which lies 135 feet below the waves

8H ago

Zion Williamson thanks Nike for making him stronger shoes

"The shoes were incredible in this game," Williamson said after leading his team to victory against Syracuse

8H ago

Retailer Anthropologie adds plus-size clothing line

The Urban Outfitters unit is adding 120 styles for larger women in its spring collection, marking a first for the retailer

8H ago

Businessman charged in college admissions scam pleads not guilty

David Sidoo is accused of paying $200,000 to have someone take a college entrance exam in place of his two sons

3H ago

Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin delete social media accounts

Weeks before being charged, Huffman tweeted a "throwback" photo with William H. Macy calling him her "partner in crime"

5H ago

U.S. sees steady rise in violence by white supremacists

"We're seeing an increase in the propaganda"

6H ago

Foreigners among those killed and wounded in New Zealand mosque attacks

Several were from the Middle East or South Asia, according to reports from governments

8H ago

"Franky Boy" Cali's murder highlights mob's violent NYC history

Murder of Francesco "Franky Boy" Cali on Staten Island on Wednesday night highlights a storied history of the mob and New York City

11H ago

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here