Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke on Sunday said he doesn’t believe anyone can be “born” to hold political office, days after raising eyebrows for comments he made to Vanity Fair in which he suggested he was destined to run for president.
The magazine’s recent profile of O’Rourke quoted him as saying he was “just born to be in it” while discussing the 2020 presidential race. HuffPost’s Amanda Terkel argued the remark highlighted a sense of entitlement that only a straight, white male could have the luxury of possessing.
Asked on Sunday about the controversial comment, O’Rourke appeared to have trouble recalling whether he had actually said it.
“Man, I hope I didn’t say that,” O’Rourke told reporters in Wisconsin, according to NBC News. “I don’t know that anyone is born for an office or a position.”
A representative for O’Rourke’s campaign referred HuffPost to a video of him answering the question Sunday in which the candidate says he meant he was born to serve.
O’Rourke, who lost his race to unseat incumbent Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in November, formally announced Thursday he was entering the already crowded pool of Democratic presidential candidates in a video alongside his wife, Amy Hoover Sanders.
The video also drew backlash for featuring Sanders silently staring at her husband as he discussed his quest to win the White House. O’Rourke has also joked that his wife is raising their three kids in El Paso “sometimes with my help.”
O’Rourke expressed regret on Friday for his “ham-handed attempt to try to highlight the fact that Amy has the lion’s share of the burden in our family.”
“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 during a “Political Party LIVE!” podcast taping in Iowa, CNN reported.
O’Rourke continued to discuss his “privileges” during an interview Saturday with NBC’s “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd during a campaign stop in Iowa.
“As a white man who has had privileges that others could not depend on, or take for granted, I’ve clearly had advantages over the course of my life,” he said, adding that a “big part” of his campaign is “recognizing that and understanding that others have not.”