AUSTIN — Democratic Senate hopeful Beto O'Rourke told a national television audience Thursday night that he'd vote to impeach President Trump and believes Texas can lead the way to a national embracing of relaxed immigration policies and gun control — unapologetically liberal positions that may be hard for some in his deep-red state to stomach.
O'Rourke, an El Paso congressman giving up his seat to challenge Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, had previously suggested that he'd support impeaching the president over alleged collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice. But he went further while appearing at a CNN town hall from the U.S.-Mexico border town of McAllen, saying that even as members of Congress wait for more evidence to emerge during federal investigations, "I do think there's enough there for impeachment."
Cruz has accused O'Rourke of being the only Democratic Senate candidate in the nation to support impeachment. At least one other, California state Sen. Kevin de Leon, who is challenging U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, has said he too would vote to do so. Still, it's a position that most candidates from both parties have avoided. Even O'Rourke conceded to moderator Dana Bash, "I know that this not politically easy or convenient to talk about."
"I would liken impeachment to an indictment. There is enough there to proceed with a trial," O'Rourke said. "As a member of the Senate, it's a far different bar. That is a trial with my colleagues where we look at the facts. And I would not prejudge the outcome of that trial. All I am saying is that there's enough there."
O'Rourke fielded audience questions for nearly an hour. Bash said Cruz was invited to attend and declined — even though the Republican's campaign said he offered to make the McAllen event a debate and O'Rourke didn't respond.
O'Rourke said he opposed Trump's proposed border wall and that Texas should be a national model in how to overhaul federal immigration policy in a humane way. He said he was a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and Texas gun culture but added, "We lose 30,000 of our fellow Americans every year to gun violence."
"Either there's something wrong with us, something bad, something evil about the United States of America, or there's a human solution to a human-caused problem," he said to sustained applause. "The people of Texas should be able to lead the way on this conversation."
The event came two days after O'Rourke scrapped his usual optimistic, bipartisan message and sharply criticized Cruz during a debate in San Antonio, even evoking a nickname that Trump bestowed on the senator when they were bitter rivals during the 2016 GOP primary, "Lyin' Ted."
But not all Democrats believe impeachment is the route to pursue, at least, not yet.
Former Vice President Joe Bidenthat he hopes Democrats don't pursue impeachment.
Biden called for Democrats to wait until the conclusion of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
"I hope they don't. I don't think there's a basis for doing that right now," Biden told "CBS This Morning."
"I think we should focus on all the terrible things that are happening now in terms of interest of the middle class people and working class people," Biden said.
Ahead of the midterms, as CBS News has reported, the Democratic party nationally
But with Democratsto take back the House, as CBS polling has indicated, Democrats may have a chance to raise the possibility of impeachment.
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