CBS 11 Exclusive Interview: Beto O'Rourke Says ‘Democracy Is Under Attack In Texas, And Across The Country’

Political reporter Jack Fink spoke with the former U.S. Congressman from Texas.

Video Transcript

- My hero, Beto O'Rourke.

JACK FINK: After running for US Senate and President, former Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke of El Paso told supporters his latest campaign is all about fighting back against Texas Republicans' efforts to pass an Elections Integrity Bill.

BETO O'ROURKE: I believe we may just have a shot at saving our democracy.

JACK FINK: At this Denton park Monday night, organizers say more than 850 people showed up.

Why is this so important to you?

BETO O'ROURKE: Democracy's under attack in Texas and across the country. You have the most restrictive voter suppression bill here in our state.

JACK FINK: Supporters express concerns about provisions in the most recent measure that could be in a bill during a special session of the legislature, whether expanded pollwatchers' rights will lead to intimidation of voters and employees and whether early voting on Sundays won't be able to start until 1:00 PM.

BETO O'ROURKE: And it is disproportionately used by African-American voters. Some people refer to it as Souls to the Polls. That is singularly targeted at one group in Texas-- Black voters.

JACK FINK: Republicans say the 1:00 PM provision was a mistake and it should have been 11:00 AM. O'Rourke's appearance here in Denton makes it quite clear he still knows how to draw a crowd, not only of his supporters, but his opponents, as well.

At one point, a supporter of former President Donald Trump stood up and yelled at O'Rourke.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

Trump supporters also made their presence known during a parade of vehicles and a counter-rally.

BETO O'ROURKE: It's a reminder to each and every one of us that this is not going to be easy. Those Trump supporters who came out and tried to shout us down today, who came out with sirens and horns blaring to try to drown out the conversation we were having here, are very emblematic of the effort to suppress the vote and to intimidate voters.

JACK FINK: What Democrats and others want to know is if O'Rourke will run for governor next year. He told me he wants to fight through the Voting Rights issue first.

BETO O'ROURKE: And after that, if there is some other way in which I can serve running for office or supporting others who run for office, I'll do it. I mean, I'm in for the distance for Texas one way or another. It doesn't have to necessarily be as a candidate or holding office.

- Thank you very much.

JACK FINK: What's key for Texas Democrats, he said, is registering voters and talking to residents when not in an election year. In Denton, Jack Fink, CBS 11 News.