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Beto O’Rourke talks inequality, health care in Las Vegas — VIDEO

Presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke rounded out his first campaign trip in Nevada on Sunday with three stops in Las Vegas.

O’Rourke spoke out against wealth inequality and voiced support for universal health care, raising the federal minimum wage to $15 and paid family leave.

“For all of these reasons, for the challenges we face, which together produce the greatest opportunity this country has ever seen, to fulfill her promise, I am running to serve you as the next president of the United States of America,” he said inside Taqueria Arandas in the eastern Las Vegas Valley.

The former Texas congressman’s visit makes him the latest in a revolving door of candidates making early stops in Nevada as they push to secure the Democratic Party’s nomination and take on President Donald Trump at the polls next year.

He attended a house party Saturday night in his first Las Vegas stop since officially announcing his candidacy for president on March 14. He spoke about unity and pushed for the U.S. to lead efforts to combat climate change.

On Sunday, he spoke to hundreds of enthusiastic supporters and answered their questions in three small venues.

On the issue of gun safety, O’Rourke said he wants to see universal background checks without exception and for “weapons designed for war” to stay on the battlefield.

He also said he wants to give citizenship status to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

He said he supports universal health care, and he backs an existing proposal in the House called Medicare for America.

“But whatever the solution is, we’ve got to make sure that we bring everyone in this country along, listen to every community, show up for everyone,” he said during a stop at Pour Coffeehouse near Sunset Park. “That’s the way that I’m going to pursue this to make sure we get to that goal as quickly as possible.”

His support for universal coverage resonated with Las Vegas resident Liz Overstreet, who earlier in the day said she was impressed by O’Rourke, but is still weighing her options for candidates to support in 2020.

“I want to know how he’s going to pay for it, though, but I didn’t hear that today,” she said.

O’Rourke later told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest to pay for the coverage.

For young students, O’Rourke said he supports universal prekindergarten education. He also supports higher pay for public school educators, as well an emphasis on recruiting and retaining a more diverse workforce of teachers.

O’Rourke also said he supports free tuition for high school graduates at community colleges and debt-free education at public universities.

He addressed a Nevada-specific problem during a stop at the coffee shop, saying he opposes the disposal of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.

After announcing his candidacy, O’Rourke aggressively pursued voters in Iowa, visiting more than a dozen counties on a three-day trip across the state, his campaign said. He has since held events in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

In the first 24 hours of his presidential campaign, O’Rourke raised $6.1 million in online contributions from every state and territory in the country without the help of PACs or corporations, according to his campaign.

His fundraising blitz narrowly eclipsed opponent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ first-day surge of campaign contributions and captured national headlines.

O’Rourke’s close-but-unsuccessful 2018 U.S. Senate run in Texas against incumbent Ted Cruz garnered national attention. He raised about $80 million in his attempt to oust Cruz.

Before serving six years in Congress, O’Rourke served six years on the El Paso City Council.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.

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