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Beto O'Rourke takes questions from reporters and voters immediately after finishing the Lucky Run 5k race March 16 in North Liberty, Iowa. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Fresh off the official launch of his presidential campaign, Beto O'Rourke hit several stumbling blocks this weekend as he sought to deflect early gaffes, criticisms of his candidacy and dirt from his teenage years.

Driving the news: A number of 2020 candidates were asked about O'Rourke's "I'm just born to be in it" Vanity Fair spread, and while none scorned him in the way President Trump might have, some chose to draw sharp distinctions. Sen. Amy Klobuchar told NBC's Chuck Todd: "No, I wasn't born to run for office, just because growing up in the '70s, in the middle of the country, I don't think many people thought a girl could be president." South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, meanwhile, said: "I think I was born to make myself useful."

  • In Iowa, O'Rourke was criticized for joking that his wife raises their kids, "sometimes with my help." He later apologized: "Not only will I not say that again, but I’ll be more thoughtful going forward in the way that I talk about our marriage, and also the way in which I acknowledge the truth of the criticism that I have enjoyed white privilege."
  • A Reuters report revealed that O'Rourke was a member of the Cult of the Dead Cow hacker group in the late 1980s. He wrote a piece of online fiction when he was 15 about killing children, which he addressed on the campaign trail: "I’m mortified to read it now, incredibly embarrassed, but I have to take ownership of my words. ... and I have to constantly try to do better."
  • O'Rourke also surprised some by declining to release the fundraising totals from the first 24 hours of his candidacy, which has "become something of a tradition among the 2020 contenders," per AP.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
48 mins ago - World

Global press freedom deteriorates amid pandemic

Data: Reporters Without Borders; Chart: Axios Visuals

Journalism is seriously restricted in 132 of 180 countries included in Reporters without Borders' annual Press Freedom Index — a particularly dangerous state of affairs during the pandemic.

Breaking it down: Nordic countries are ranked high on the list for having "good" press freedoms, while China, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea are at the bottom. The U.S. is ranked 44th.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

How anti-greed backlash killed the European Super League

Photo: David Cliff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The 48-hour rise and fall of the European Super League is the perfect encapsulation of how anti-greed sentiment has changed the rules of capitalism.

Why it matters: The highly-complex structures of capitalism are built from the mostly base motivations of individuals chasing money. That's been condemned and celebrated in equal measure — but has also largely been accepted.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans unveil $568 billion infrastructure counterproposal

Sens. John Barasso and Shelley Moore Capito. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Republicans formally rolled out the framework for their $568 billion counterproposal to President Biden's $2.5 trillion infrastructure plan on Thursday.

Why it matters: The package is far narrower than anything congressional Democrats or the White House would agree to, but it serves as a marker for what Republicans want out of a potential bipartisan deal.