Immigration a key issue heading into second debate, O’Rourke says


Castro, O'Rourke to debate on separate nights

EL PASO ⁠— Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro will not get a debate rematch in the second round of Democratic presidential primary debates.

O’Rourke and Castro had a heated debate over immigration laws during the first debate last month in Miami, but the Texans will appear on different nights this time around. CNN randomly assigned 20 candidates to two stages in a drawing broadcast live Thursday night. The debates are being held over two nights, July 30-31, in Detroit.

O’Rourke, the former El Paso congressman, this week said he would make it a point to state his message at the next debate with clarity and energy.

“I am going to reflect the energy that we have here in El Paso. I am going to speak loudly, very loudly about the things that are important for the future of this country including immigration, climate change, the economy, democracy and the need to be inclusive of all,” O’Rourke said at the opening of a new campaign office on Wednesday in East El Paso.

O’Rourke said he’ll stick to his grassroots style of campaigning, despite growing criticism in the national media and a dip in campaign donations.

“The fundamentals are the fundamentals. It’s about reflecting back what you hear in town halls and elsewhere. My choice is to make myself present in their communities, to go where they are,” he said. “I think it’s a really small minority of Americans who have made up their mind. … There are more than 200 days left before the first caucuses in Iowa and the primary in New Hampshire, so there’s a lot of time to meet and get in front of people.”​

O’Rourke will appear on the first night, along with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan; former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; former Maryland Rep. John Delaney; and author Marianne Williamson.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will get a debate rematch July 31 along with New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; entrepreneur Andrew Yang; Castro, the former Housing Secretary; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet; Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard; New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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