White House principal deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley poked fun at former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) for his “Beto” moniker, telling Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” on Thursday that President Donald Trump and White House officials will refer to him as “Robert Francis” during the 2020 presidential campaign.
O’Rourke — born Robert Francis O’Rourke in El Paso, Texas — has used the name Beto since he was a kid. It’s a common Hispanic nickname for people named Roberto; El Paso is at the U.S.-Mexican border and is across from Mexico’s Ciudad Juárez.
But Republicans have accused the Irish and Welsh O’Rourke of rallying behind “Beto” so he can better identify with key Hispanic voters.
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O’Rourke officially launched his 2020 presidential bid on Thursday. He joined a crowded and diverse field of Democratic contenders.
O’Rourke served in the House for three terms before he unsuccessfully sought to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in 2018.
Fox News’ co-anchor Bill Hemmer asked Gidley, “Beto O’Rourke is now in the game for the Democratic primary. What does the president think about that?”
Gidley corrected Hemmer, replying, “Well, first of all, you pronounced it wrong. It’s ‘Robert Francis,’ that’s number one.”
“Number two, we don’t care who gets in the race. The fact is the president is going to win reelection,” Gidley added. “I can tell you the president stands for the American people. He’s done that the entire time.”
But 2020 Democratic presidential contenders will “have to answer for their new set of policies” that threaten to make “America socialist,” Gidley warned.
Hemmer asked Gidley if Trump plans to refer to O’Rourke as “Robert Francis” for the duration of the presidential campaign.
“Well, he’s called him that before on the campaign trail,” said Gidley. “And why wouldn’t he? That’s his name.”
Trump and White House officials won’t be the only ones referring to O’Rourke as “Robert Francis” rather than “Beto.” The name “Robert Francis” was actually trending on Twitter on Thursday.
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney that “Robert Francis” is “announcing at an opportune time” because “St. Patrick’s Day is coming up, Robert Francis O’Rourke.”
“What has he done? He’s passed legislation to rename a courthouse and lost to Ted Cruz,” McDaniel said. “I’ve never seen a more vain candidate, this Hollywood pre-packaged candidate. He’s not going to play in my state of Michigan.”
O’Rourke has “nothing to run on,” McDaniel said. “His greatest accomplishment is ‘I lost. I lost to Ted Cruz,'” she added.
Although O’Rourke was a little-known politician before he challenged Cruz, his 2018 Senate campaign caused his popularity to skyrocket when he polled neck-and-neck with Cruz.
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