SXSW festival draws 2020 Dems to Texas


Democrats running for president in 2020 flocked this weekend to Texas for the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin.

The historically tech-focused gathering has transformed into a more political event in recent years, emerging this year as a necessary stop for many presidential contenders fighting in a crowded primary field ahead of Texas’ early primary.

While some candidates such as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) are campaigning in other crucial primary states, this year’s SXSW boasts appearances from a number of Democratic presidential hopefuls including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

{mosads}Warren, who has emerged as a vocal opponent of digital giants’ power, used her appearance Saturday to reiterate her criticism of companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon, pushing the tech giants to break apart.

“You can’t be an umpire and own one of the teams that plays in the game,” she said. “My view is break those things apart, and we will have a much more competitive, robust market in America.”

“The monopolists will make fewer monopoly profits. Boo hoo.”

Klobuchar, who has been dogged by allegations by former staffers of mistreatment, addressed a report from last month that alleged she once ate a salad with her comb and ordered an aide to clean it after the staffer did not get her a fork.

“It was me sort of doing a mom thing, I didn’t have a fork so I used a comb to eat salad on a plane,” she said.

The Minnesota Democrat, who is casting herself as a centrist in a field currently dominated by progressives, said the competition fostered by a crowded primary field could help the party.

“There are a number of great candidates…and I always like to jokingly say, ‘may the best woman win.’ But, no litmus test, many of them would be good, but I think that competition is good,” she said, referring to the other candidates.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), who is mulling a presidential bid, made a surprise appearance Saturday at the festival for the premier of a documentary detailing his insurgent Senate bid last year to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

While O’Rourke lost by under 3 points in November, the enthusiasm around his campaign propelled him to rockstar status within the Democratic Party and fueled calls for him to weigh a shot for the White House. 

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttegieg is among other Democratic hopefuls  slated to appear at the festival Saturday. Castro, Hickenlooper and Inslee are all slated to appear Sunday.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is weighing an independent presidential bid, as well as former Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who has remained vocal in GOP politics as a critic of President Trump, appeared at the festival Saturday.

Tags Amy Klobuchar Austin, Texas Bernie Sanders Beto O'Rourke Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Elizabeth Warren John Hickenlooper Julián Castro SXSW Ted Cruz

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