Politics

Becoming Beto: O'Rourke family shares candidate's upbringing

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) - KTSM was first in the nation to confirm Beto O'Rourke's 2020 plans. O'Rourke's mother and sister spoke with us in an exclusive interview to get some insight on the El Paso man making a run for the White House.
 
"There was some struggle between Beto and I," Beto's sister, Charlotte O'Rourke, said. "We fought like brothers and sisters do but I have always looked up to him and admired him."
 
From a young age, Charlotte told KTSM she was always drawn to follow her big brother -- a feeling she now sees on a different and much larger scale which she now shares with thousands.
 
"Beto was so shy and introverted and didn't have a big group of friends and so...I never saw him speaking to a crowd," she said. "So to see Beto talking on a stage to thousands of people blows my mind, it's surreal."
 
To understand how Beto got to that national stage, we go back to his childhood. 
 
"I love to joke that I was the worst thing that ever happened to Beto he was 4 1/2 when I was born and I think being the only boy and having my parents to himself was really nice and not only did he get a sibling, but a sister," Charlotte said.
 
The sibling rivalry continued through the years but eventually turned into an unbreakable bond highlighted by one unforgettable moment.
 
"I got into a fight with a boyfriend in high school and Beto was in town," she said. "I didn't talk to Beto about it that night, but when I woke up in the morning, he had left a note on my bedroom door talking about how strong I am, how wonderful I am, and how I didn't need that and he really pumped me up and encouraged me. That's when I realized we're on the same team."
 
A team led by the matriarch of the family, Melissa O'Rourke, who was married to the late former El Paso County Pat O'Rourke. She never once thought Beto would take after his father.
 
"Interestingly, his father was involved politically in El Paso growing up, and Beto would go to events, not necessarily excited about it, but I never saw Beto engaged with that arena," Melissa shared.
 
She does recall that changing when he came back home to El Paso after studying at Columbia University in New York.
 
 "Once he was back here he just couldn't deal with the fact that there was so much potential here and it wasn't being explored," she said.
 
O'Rourke's mother said the similarities between father and son are emerging on the campaign trail.
 
"I watch him and I think about his dad," she said. "I remember the first time Pat ran for community college school board and I went to the first forum and Pat got up there and started speaking and I said, 'Oh my gosh, he was so concise and made things crystal clear', and Beto has that same ability."
 
As for what it's like to be the mother of a presidential candidate?
 
"I'll see someone at the store with a Beto shirt and I say 'I love your shirt!' and I just like seeing that that support is still here in El Paso," she said.

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