Meghan McCain asked 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke about male privilege on Tuesday, resurfacing criticism of remarks he made earlier this year in a Vanity Fair cover story at the outset of his campaign.
During O’Rourke’s appearance on ABC’s “The View,” co-host McCain asked the former Democratic congressman from Texas whether he thinks he can “get away with more” because he’s a man. She recalled his assertion to Vanity Fair in March that he was “born to be in it” while discussing his White House run. McCain also wondered whether O’Rourke had any regrets about the way he announced his candidacy.
“There are things that I have been privileged to do in my life that others cannot,” he responded. “And I think the more that I travel and listen to people and learn from them, the clearer that becomes to me.”
O’Rourke went on to list a series of race- and gender-based inequities in America ― from the pay gap to incarceration rates to the wealth disparity between black people and white people ― and acknowledged that he did not personally face such issues.
“The systematic, foundational discrimination that we have in this country ― in every aspect of life ― is something that I have not experienced in my lifetime, and I’ve had advantages that others could not enjoy,” he said. “I have my work cut out for me to be a better person and ensure that I’m more mindful to the experiences that others have had, different than the experiences that I have had.”
Steering the conversation back to the Vanity Fair cover, co-host Joy Behar pressed O’Rourke on whether it appeared elitist.
“Yeah, I think it reinforces that perception of privilege,” he said. “And that headline that said I was ‘born to be in this’ ― in the article I was attempting to say that I felt that my calling was in public service. No one is born to be president of the United States of America, least of all me.”
Just one day after the magazine published its profile of O’Rourke, the candidate faced additional scrutiny for joking during an Iowa campaign event that his wife, Amy, raises their children “sometimes with my help.”
Walking back the remark the following day, O’Rourke called it a “ham-handed attempt to try to highlight the fact that Amy has the lion’s share of the burden in our family.”
Addressing the moment again on “The View,” O’Rourke reiterated his previous mea culpa and said Amy had informed him that his initial remark sounded “flip” and advised him to “rethink this.”
“I have a lot to learn and still am, and I’m learning from the best,” he said.