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Presidential hopeful O'Rourke campaigns in Hampton Roads

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY/AP) -- With still a year and a half until the 2020 Election, Hampton Roads voters are getting their first visit from a presidential hopeful on Tuesday.

Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke is to making stops in Norfolk, Hampton and William & Mary on Tuesday for meet and greets, town halls and other events.

The former Texas representative formally announced his candidacy in March. He is one of several Democrats making a bid at the White House for 2020.

Hours ahead of his first stop in Norfolk, O'Rourke appeared to take a jog along the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. O'Rourke said in a tweet, "Beautiful morning for a run along the boardwalk in Virginia Beach with (Missy Cotter Smasal)."

Smasal is running for a seat in Virginia's 8th Congressional District.

In Hampton, O'Rourke addressed a crowd of voters at Vanguard Brewpub in Hampton. Staff said there were at least 275 people inside the brewpub.

"I like the face that Beto O'Rourke was for the people," said Hampton resident Glenda Foreman.

O'Rourke spoke about equal pay, eliminating discrimination, healthcare for all, paid family leave and decriminalizing marijuana possession in his speech, before he took questions from the audience.

"If we want to release the full genius and talent and potential and promise of everyone, we must not only tolerate or respect, but embrace our differences that make us stronger, so no discrimination in the workplace, everyone paid a living wage, healthcare for all, paid family leave," O'Rourke said.  

He also spoke about immigration.  "Beginning by freeing those dreamers from any fear of deportation by making them U.S. citizens.  It's going to take all of us, every single one of us showing up to be counted, to fight for every one of us in this great country."

O'Rourke's visit to Hampton Roads comes after he made a quick run through North Carolina cities including Charlotte, Greensboro and Chapel Hill on Monday. It was his first visit to the state as a presidential contender.

"I would love to see a progressive candidate," said Hampton resident Nancy Jordan.  "I would love to see a progressive president.  I think Beto is very aspirational, he is exciting, he is energizing and I think he will bring out the vote."

However, in a very crowded field, many people are still waiting to decide.

"I'm still listening to everyone before I make any decisions," said Hampton resident Runita White. 

O'Rourke is also expected to swing by Henrico and Charlottesville later in the day, and has more Virginia events scheduled for Wednesday.


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