Democratic presidential contender Beto O'Rourke on Friday acknowledged making mistakes as a teen and as a candidate, responding to criticism of his campaign rhetoric toward his wife, as well as writings he produced online when he was young. During a taping of the Political Party Live podcast in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he addressed criticism of his campaign-trail joke that his wife, Amy, has raised their three kids "sometimes with my help." O'Rourke made the comment at multiple campaign stops during his first swing through Iowa, including earlier Friday, eliciting laughs each time, but he also drew criticism as being insensitive to the challenges faced by single parents raising children, per the AP. O'Rourke said the criticism of his "ham-handed" attempt to highlight his wife's work in their marriage was "right on." "Not only will I not say that again, but I will be much more thoughtful in the ways that I talk about my marriage," he said.
O'Rourke, 46, also said he was "mortified" when he reread the violent fiction he wrote as a teen, which received fresh attention Friday after a Reuters report outlined his involvement in a hacker group as a teen. O'Rourke wrote a handful of posts on the group's message board under the name "Psychedelic Warlord," including a fictional piece he penned when he was 15 about children getting run over by a car. "I'm mortified to read it now, incredibly embarrassed, but I have to take ownership of my words," he said. "Whatever my intention was as a teenager doesn't matter, I have to look long and hard at my actions, at the language I have used, and I have to constantly try to do better." O'Rourke had said after an earlier campaign stop that it was "stuff I was part of as a teenager." "It's not anything I'm proud of today," he said. "I can't control anything I've done in the past. I can only control what I do going forward, and what I plan to do is give this my best." (Read more Beto O'Rourke stories.)