2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls will take the stage this weekend at the uber-trendy South by Southwest (SXSW) tech, film and music festival in Austin, Texas as the candidates seek to beef up their street cred with the young people, and stand out from what is quickly becoming a crowded primary field.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., will speak on Saturday, while former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee will speak Sunday.
Meanwhile, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke — who ran for the Senate last year, but has not made a 2020 announcement yet — is expected to attend a film premiere about his longshot Senate bid against Sen.Ted Cruz. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who is not a presidential contender but is a rising star within the party, is due to be interviewed onstage on Saturday night, according to the Guardian.
Texas is an early primary state for Democrats, but is a red state in the presidential election as a whole — although O’Rourke’s close race with Cruz suggests that the state could be shifting slowly toward being a purple state.
Invading the music, film and tech festival with their messages on universal healthcare and how to tackle the deficit also serves as an opportunity for the 2020 contenders to (hopefully) look cool and to rub shoulders with potentially-enthusiastic young voters who can help propel campaigns down the line with support, volunteering and hype on the latest social media platforms.
Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez told CBS News that events like SXSW provided real opportunities for the party ahead of the 2020 campaign.
“It’s become an iconic national event, and I wanted to make sure people understood what we’re doing at the Democratic Party to win,” Perez said.
He also cited the 2018 Texas Senate race as a sign that Texas could eventually be up for grabs for Democrats: “Texas is very much in play for Democrats. We made tremendous progress.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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