By Jon Dougherty
Former U.S. Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke may have had a gaffe-filled first swing through Iowa as the latest Democratic presidential contender to join an already crowded field, but it didn’t hurt his fundraising effort.
The Texas Lefty hauled in $6.1 million on his first official day as a candidate, topping avowed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and five other rivals, according to his campaign.
“In just 24 hours, Americans across this country came together to prove that it is possible to run a true grassroots campaign for president — a campaign by all of us, for all of us, that answers not to the PACs, corporations, and special interests but to the people,” O’Rourke, who has vowed not to take any PAC donations, said in a statement.
O’Rourke set a fundraising record last year during his unsuccessful bid to topple incumbent GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.
Last month, Sanders stunned the Democratic field by raising what was then a record — $5.9 million.
NBC News noted further:
Meanwhile, Sen. Kamala Harris collected $1.5 million, which was seen as impressive haul for the California Democratic lawmaker. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., raised $1 million in 48 hours, as did former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. It took Jay Inslee 72 hours to raise more than $1 million, but that still surpassed expectations for the Washington governor.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts took in $300,000 on New Year’s Eve.
Sanders’ campaign said that he hit $10 million within five days.
On his swing through Iowa, O’Rourke drew laughs when he told multiple crowds that his wife raised their three kids “sometimes with my help.” He was later criticized for being ‘insensitive’ to single parents — a criticism he claimed was “spot-on.”
“Not only will I not say that again, but I’ll be more thoughtful going forward in the way that I talk about our marriage, and also the way in which I acknowledge the truth of the criticism that I have enjoyed white privilege,” he said, according to CNN.
He also faced questions following a Reuters report noting that as a teen he was a member of a hacking collective known as the Cult of the Dead Cow:
The hugely influential Cult of the Dead Cow, jokingly named after an abandoned Texas slaughterhouse, is notorious for releasing tools that allowed ordinary people to hack computers running Microsoft’s Windows. It’s also known for inventing the word “hacktivism” to describe human-rights-driven security work.
O’Rourke was also criticized over a story he posted on the hacking site in which he fantasized about running over two kids:
Another t-file from O’Rourke, written when he was 15, is a short and disturbing piece of fiction. “One day, as I was driving home from work, I noticed two children crossing the street. They were happy, happy to be free from their troubles…. This happiness was mine by right. I had earned it in my dreams.
“As I neared the young ones, I put all my weight on my right foot, keeping the accelerator pedal on the floor until I heard the crashing of the two children on the hood, and then the sharp cry of pain from one of the two. I was so fascinated for a moment, that when after I had stopped my vehicle, I just sat in a daze, sweet visions filling my head.”
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10