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Bi-Partisan Road Trip: Congressmen Livestream Their Drive to D.C.

Congressmen Beto O'Rourke and Will Hurd, livestreaming their road trip from Texas to Washington D.C.

From Texas Standard:

With flights to Washington D.C. canceled because of a blizzard, Beto O’Rourke and Will Hurd – both members of Congress from Texas – needed a way to get back to the nation’s capital. So they rented a car and set out, taking Facebook viewers along for the ride.

The road trip was El Paso Democrat O’Rourke’s idea. Hurd is a Republican whose 23rd district stretches from El Paso to San Antonio. The pair started streaming via Facebook Live on Tuesday morning, keeping the feed going throughout the trip.


O’Rourke on weather conditions on the way to Washington D.C.:

“We’ve got about 400 people who are with us on Facebook Live crowdsourcing the roads ahead and they say we’ve go clear sailing all the way through until we go to 81 North.“

O’Rourke on how the trip came about:

“One of the things that makes a road trip a road trip is some level of spontaneity.. So about 12 hours before we left, Will and I were trying to figure out how we were going to get our flights back to Washington D.C. given the...blizzard that was expected there. And I kind of off-the-cuff said ‘hey Will, what if we rented a car, drove it across the country, and livestreamed the entire way and allowed people to join us?’”

Hurd on agreeing to the trip and reaching compromise:

“I’ve learned after the fact that he didn’t think I was ever going to say yes. And when I did, I think he was a little shocked. And had we...talked about this a little bit more, we may never have done it. Because once you get something in [Beto’s] mind, he’s not going to stop until he gets there. He would drive all the way through and never stop. I would stop at every city and every town - hang out and talk to people. So that started early – our bipartisan cooperation – finding the right number of stops, and how much time we could spend outside the car.”

Hurd on how members of Congress from opposite parties interact with one another:

“People are going home on the weekends, crisscrossing their districts...We spend time in committee meetings or on the floor voting. You have some superficial interaction. But I don’t think I’ve spent 24 hours in a car with anyone, except for maybe my girlfriend brother. And so this really is a great opportunity. We’ve been...having colleagues call in from both sides of the aisle. We’ve been asking them: if they would do a road trip with someone of the opposite party, who would it be. So we’re keeping notes.”

O’Rourke on his proposed Congressional ‘Cannonball Run’:

“I’ve got a proposal for Will, which is that we institutionalize this, and every year in March, we have a congressional ‘Cannonball Run.’ And it’s gonna be two members per car; a Republican and [a] Democrat. And we all race each other. You pick whatever route you get to Washington, D.C. You've got to follow the laws. You can’t spread. But you can use whatever trickery or shenanigans are up your sleeve to defeat your colleagues.”

O’Rourke on what topics have come up along the way:

“We just spent the last 20 minutes talking about climate change. And I, to my surprise, find that Will and I both agree on most of it. Before that [we] were talking about accountability within the VA, and a federal government hiring freeze. I think I gave a little bit on accountability...and I think Will acknowledged that a hiring freeze is not helpful for us, fulfilling our mission to the American people.“

Hurd on his traveling companion, and working together in Congress:

“Beto and I have worked together a lot over the past few years on issues that affect the border – him in El Paso, and me from El Paso to San Antonio...The border communities are important to us. But it has been interesting to learn some of the other areas where we can actually cooperate...and I would never have thought that, had we not had this long conversation. And we actually are enjoying each other’s company...We actually got into a lengthy debate last night about pies versus cake, which was pretty funny. It really is cool to get to know Beto. He was in a band...and it’s really interesting hearing about those experiences…The media sometimes don’t cover when bi-partisanship actually happens. We focus a lot of times on what divides us rather than what unites us, and it’s great to show that and be an example that if a Republican and a Democrat can be in a car for 24+ hours, and have a civil discourse on the issues.”

Hurd on how viewers are responding to the road trip:

“Honestly, yesterday we saw the nature of the comments changing. There was some nastiness and then it got better. If you look at the social media profiles of both Beto and I, our followers are very different, and so seeing them interact, and doing it in a very positive, thought-provoking way has been good.”

Rhonda joined KUT in late 2013 as producer for the station's new daily news program, Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?” She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio.
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