"I do think it makes sense for those who want to see this administration do more, or do a better job, to exert that political pressure," said the Texas Democrat.
Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke became the latest high-profile member of the party to back the push for Michigan voters to tick the "uncommitted" box on the primary ballot next week as a way to protest President Joe Biden's unconditional support of Israel's unyielding assault on the people of Gaza.
"I do think it makes sense for those who want to see this administration do more, or do a better job, to exert that political pressure and get the president's attention and the attention of those on his campaign so that the United States does better," said the former congressman who has run for both president and the U.S. Senate.
In an interview with the Michigan Advance on Friday, O'Rourke explained that he was partly influenced by a recent New York Times op-ed by Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud which argued that "no amount of landmark legislation" passed by the Biden administration "can outweigh the more than 100,000 people killed, wounded, or missing in Gaza. The scales of justice will not allow it."
"Yes, let's help him, let's push him, let's apply pressure where we can, but let us in no way undermine his ability to win in November.”
O'Rourke said he agrees "with the aims and the goals" of the grassroots campaign in Michigan that is urging Democrats to use Tuesday's primary contest, in which Biden faces no real opponent, as a way to express the deep frustration many voters in the state are feeling over the carnage in Gaza.
"We should have a ceasefire, there should be a return of each [and] every single one of those hostages [taken by Hamas], there should be an end to this war and there should be a negotiated solution to Palestinian statehood," O’Rourke told the news outlet. "All of that needs to happen, and I share the concern that the United States is not doing close to enough to bring those things to pass."
Polls have shown a strong majority of Democratic voters support an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, something Biden has steadfastly refused. Jewish Americans have been among those speaking loudest over U.S. backing of Israel's genocidal campaign in Gaza, with groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now staging countless demonstrations in cities across the nation over the last four months. Disagreement with the administration's policy is especially high among younger voters as well as the Arab American and Muslim Americans who represent a sizeable bloc of Michigan voters.
In his op-ed, Mayor Hammoud said that like many in his community, the humanitarian disaster and death toll in Gaza has made it nearly impossible to sleep at night, but that by voting "uncommitted" on Tuesday he will not only be voicing his dissent but also expressing a kind of hope. He wrote:
The hope that Mr. Biden will listen. The hope that he and those in Democratic leadership will choose the salvation of our democracy over aiding and abetting Mr. Netanyahu’s war crimes. The hope that our families in Gaza will have food in their bellies, clean water to drink, access to health care and the internet and above all else, a just state in which they have the right to determine their own future.
The hope that, one day soon, Dearborn will be able to sleep again.
In my sleepless nights, I have often questioned what kind of America my daughters will grow up in: one that makes excuses for the killing of innocent men, women and children or one that chooses to reclaim hope. What still lies between betrayal and hope is the power of accountability. It is my prayer — as a father, the son of immigrants and as a public servant in the greatest city in the greatest nation in the world — that my fellow Michiganders will harness this power and lend their voice to this hope by holding the president accountable.
Despite his endorsement for those campaigning for "uncommitted" in Michigan, where O'Rourke was visiting over the weekend as part of a book tour, he said that he still wants Biden to win reelection.
"I support the president; I want him very badly to beat Donald Trump," he said. "I don't want to do anything that weakens his ability to do that, because for whatever legitimate concerns people have about President Biden's response to the war in Gaza, we do know for a fact that, under President Trump, it would be much worse. And so, yes, let's help him, let's push him, let's apply pressure where we can, but let us in no way undermine his ability to win in November.”