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The Latest: Beto O’Rourke says he’s focused on White House

April 7, 2019

The Latest on the 2020 presidential race (all times EDT):

8 p.m.

Beto O’Rourke says he hasn’t thought about running for Senate in Texas if his White House bid is unsuccessful, and wants to focus fully on winning the Democratic presidential nomination.

O’Rourke tells The Associated Press while campaigning in Des Moines: “The only way I can run is by focusing forward, on the task at hand, and for me right now it’s meeting everybody that I can in Iowa and in the other states who will decide who the Democratic nominee will be.”

O’Rourke says thinking about an alternative position would be a distraction.

The former Texas congressman came within about three points of defeating Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz last November. Some Texas Democrats had hoped he would run against Republican Sen. John Cronyn, who’s up for re-election in 2020.

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7:15 p.m.

Sen. Michael Bennet is trying to keep his recent prostate cancer diagnosis out of mind as he mulls a run for president while visiting New Hampshire.

The Colorado Democrat spoke to a group of roughly 30 people at a coffee shop in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Saturday afternoon. The Senator focused on health care and improving the Affordable Care Act at the event, while also criticizing the Republican Freedom Caucus as “tyrants.”

Speaking after the event, the 54-year-old said he’ll have surgery at the beginning of the Senate recess and hopes to be on the move again a few weeks after.

“I don’t think there’s any point in dwelling on it,” he said. “If it turns out to be worse than I think, I’ll deal with it then.”

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7 p.m.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is wrapping up three days of campaigning aimed at reaching out to black voters, who are key to a Democratic presidential effort in southern states.

Hickenlooper said Saturday in Charleston, South Carolina, that he’s making an effort to “meet people where they are” in getting to know the diverse electorate in states outside his own.

Hickenlooper this week addressed the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, using his speech to the group in New York to outline his record on policing. Hickenlooper suggested that the nation “shutter some prisons altogether.” He then visited a lynching memorial in Montgomery, Alabama.

On Saturday, Hickenlooper met with two survivors of a racist attack on a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

South Carolina is the first state on the primary calendar with a largely black electorate.

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3:45 p.m.

Elizabeth Warren says the Democrats running for president will have to do more than campaign on an anti-Donald Trump message if they want to take back the White House in 2020.

The Massachusetts senator says they’ll have to explain their own vision for the future of the country.

Warren is visiting the early caucus state of Nevada. She tells about 500 people at a rally in a high school gymnasium in Reno that she has an ambitious agenda that would force billionaires to pay their fair share of taxes, strengthen labor unions and protect everyone’s right to vote.

She says it’s important to build a broad grassroots campaign in Nevada and other places now to have a chance to win next year.

Warren says that “if our message is ‘not Trump,’ it’s not going to work.”

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3:45 p.m.

Beto O’Rourke may be competing against Pete Buttigieg (BOO’-tuh-juhj) for the Democratic presidential nomination, but the former Texas congressman is still a fan of the South Bend, Indiana mayor.

O’Rourke says “I like him a lot” when he was asked about the fact that the two politicians have a similar message and profile, and may be competing for similar voters.

O’Rourke, who’s making a series of stops in Iowa, says he likes the way Buttigieg is approaching voters and “the seriousness with which he answers questions, the thought that he’s put into it. I think he’s terrific.”

O’Rourke made the comments while leaving a house party in the Des Moines area.

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8 a.m.

It’s Bernie versus Beto in Iowa.

The 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are holding dueling events Saturday just days after Bernie Sanders won the campaign cash derby for the first quarter of the year.

The Vermont senator raised more than $18 million in 41 days, while Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman, reported $9.4 million in 18 days.

Iowa hosts the nation’s first nominating caucuses.

Other declared or prospective candidates are in early-voting New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg (BOO’-tuh-juhj) of South Bend, Indiana, along with Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (KEER’-sten JIHL’-uh-brand) of New York and Michael Bennet of Colorado are visiting New Hampshire.

John Hickenlooper, a former Colorado governor, is meeting with survivors of the 2015 church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina.

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