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Beto O’Rourke heading to Iowa, fueling speculation about White House bid

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Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke is heading to the early presidential voting state of Iowa this weekend, fuelling speculation that the Democrat is poised to enter the White House race.

O’Rourke said last week he had made a decision about whether to seek the Democratic nomination for president. A trip to Iowa on Saturday, where the first votes in the nominating contest will be cast in February, suggests his entry into the race is imminent.

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In an announcement posted on Twitter, Eric Giddens, an Iowa Democrat who is running in a special election for a state senate seat, said his campaign workers and O’Rourke will be urging students this Saturday at the University of Northern Iowa to vote in his election race.

The tweet by Giddens was accompanied by a video of O’Rourke speaking from his home city of El Paso, Texas, wearing a University of Northern Iowa baseball cap and urging UNI students to vote for Giddens.

“Supporting him for state Senate is the way that we get Iowa, and by extension, this country, back on the right track,” O’Rourke says. “UNI, we’re counting on you, and we’re looking forward to seeing you soon. Adios.”

Chris Evans, a spokesman for O’Rourke, confirmed in an email to Reuters that O’Rourke will be in Waterloo, Iowa, campaigning for Giddens on Saturday afternoon. He did not respond to requests about whether O’Rourke was planning to run for president.

With its position as first in the nation status when it comes to presidential nominating battles, Iowa can sometimes make or break candidacies and is an early and frequent destination for White House hopefuls.

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Other Democratic presidential candidates have already visited Iowa ahead of O’Rourke’s visit.

O’Rourke, 46, rose to national prominence last year when he narrowly lost his bid to defeat Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.

O’Rourke had previously said he would decide by the end of February if he would launch a White House campaign, and speculation around his plans mounted after several high-profile public appearances.

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He sat for an interview with Oprah Winfrey in New York and held a rival rally last month to decry Trump’s immigration policy as the president promoted his planned border wall in El Paso. He has also visited the general election battleground state of Wisconsin.

Reporting by Tim Reid; Editing by Robert Birsel

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PG&E lobbyist started non-profit to help California fire victims — but here’s what really happened

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AS THOUSANDS of Sonoma County homes smoldered in ruins from the Tubbs Fire in the fall of 2017, Darius Anderson—veteran lobbyist for Pacific Gas & Electric Corporation and an owner of the Press Democrat daily newspaper—established the non-profit Rebuild North Bay Foundation.

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Mitch McConnell is packing the courts with rightwing extremists while everyone is distracted by Trump’s impeachment

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No let-up in French strikes as fresh turmoil hits weekend

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The most serious nationwide strike to hit France in years caused new weekend travel turmoil on Saturday, with unions warning the walkouts would last well into next week.

The challenge thrown to President Emmanuel Macron over his plans for radical pension reform has seen hundreds of thousands take to the streets and key transport services brought to a standstill.

The strikes, which began on Thursday, have recalled the winter of 1995, when three weeks of huge stoppages forced a social policy U-turn by the then-government.

Unions have vowed a second series of mass demonstrations nationwide on Tuesday after big rallies on Thursday and there is expected to be little easing of the transport freezes over the coming days.

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