BLAND, Va. (WDBJ7) — Beto O'Rourke brought his campaign to Bland Square, a busy convenience store and grill, where Trump 2020 hats sat on the shelves, and local Democrats crowded into the small dining area to hear from the candidate.
"So I want to thank you for joining us and giving us continued cause for optimism," O'Rourke said as he arrived.
It wasn't lost on O'Rourke that Bland is one of the reddest counties in Virginia, voting overwhelmingly Republican in the last presidential election, but he told the audience that solving the nation's most difficult challenges will require bringing everyone to the table.
"So that is why I'm here today," O'Rourke said, "to make sure we write nobody off, take no one for granted, involve every single person in this election, in this campaign and the future of this country."
Asked what it will take for Democratic candidates to reconnect with rural voters, O'Rourke told WDBJ7 they must show up in rural communities and deliver on their promises.
"Whether it's the opioid crisis or health care or education or climate change, we've got to make sure we bring everyone in America into the solutions," O'Rourke said. "Not only will we never get those challenges addressed, we'll never win the elections in the first place that put us in a position of power to do something about it."
After spending Thursday night in Wytheville, and Friday morning in Bland, O'Rourke headed to Roanoke County, and to Blacksburg for a town hall at Virginia Tech.
O'Rourke said he felt it was important to come to southwestern Virginia. And he said candidates who don't "show up" shouldn't be surprised when people don't vote for them on Election Day.