Daily Point

You Beto believe it

Then there was Beto.

Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke jumped into the presidential race Thursday morning with a three-and-a-half-minute video featuring him in his trademark blue button-down shirt delivering an upbeat message about tackling challenges. He even called the United States “the last great hope of Earth” when it comes to climate change.

O’Rourke also put up a slew of targeted digital ads to underscore this message, according to The Point's review of Facebook’s political ad archive. The ads include videos of the former congressman and musician emphatically gesturing and speaking in a sonorous voice about running a grassroots campaign and hearing from voters.

“This campaign will be positive,” text of one ad says -- a message that was amplified by Rep. Kathleen Rice, who Thursday became the first Congress member to hitch her wagon to O’Rourke’s campaign, tweeting that “he'll build a movement that will rise above the toxic division in our politics and unite this country.” A win in 2020 by O’Rourke, who Rice calls her close friend, might present options to the Garden City Democrat, who has been critical of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Unlike candidates like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders or Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, O’Rourke isn’t outlining big new policies yet, sticking to his personal charisma and big-picture if vague Democratic priorities: fighting inequality, “raising wages,” ending decades-long wars.

Will those malleable priorities get through an emboldened leftist primary audience? Or will the hopeful messaging remind centrist voters fondly of President Barack Obama, another trim young hopeful candidate?

In one way at least the 2018 left is apparent in O’Rourke’s rollout: his digital ads decry the influence of corporations and say, “Not a dime from PACs.”

Mark Chiusano

Talking Point

Welcome to the big show

State Sen. James Gaughran is going to be showing off his Irish in a St. Patrick’s Day Parade after all -- and it’s a much bigger party than the one that booted the first-term Democrat.

Gaughran’s been called up to the big leagues, asked to march in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade Saturday with Grand Marshal Brian O’Dwyer.

The invite came after The Point reported last week that Gaughran was disinvited from the Huntington St. Patrick’s Day Parade held on March 10, and had his membership in the local chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians revoked. The expulsion of Gaughran, who served as grand marshal of the Huntington parade in 1986, was the work of the Rev. Msgr. Steve R. Camp. The reason was Gaughran’s vote to, in his eyes, safeguard the right to an abortion in New York, and in the eyes of some Catholic dioceses in the state, expand abortion rights by making it clear an abortion can be performed at any time during a pregnancy if the health of the mother is a concern, and by moving abortion law from the state’s criminal code to its health code.

Angered, Gaughran wrote to Camp (to which he said he’s received no response) decrying the idea of a parade “purity test,” and pointed out that politicians who oppose other church teachings, like its anti-death penalty stance, have not faced similar exclusion. His exclusion prompted some local groups to threaten a boycott of the Huntington parade and spurred talk of a counter-parade. Asked about it, Gaughran said: “I asked people to support the Huntington parade and the community as they always have.”

The New York City parade has had its own famous battles over excluding openly homosexual groups of marchers, and Mayor Bill de Blasio boycotted the parade until it allowed all such groups to openly participate in 2016.

Gaughran, who takes pride in his heritage, may be late to Saturday’s parade, though, as Long Island business takes precedence. The parade runs from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Gaughran has a town-hall meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. at Northport High School, and the general topic is the Long Island Power Authority.

With local ire running high over LIPA’s lawsuit to dramatically lower its property taxes on the Northport power plant (and dramatically raise them on local homeowners), Gaughran’s Ireland-related duties might have to start late.

Lane Filler

Pencil Point

The Flying Ace's new ride

Tom Stiglich

Tom Stiglich

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Final Point

Everyone wants a piece of the Pi

It’s Pi Day. And it’s always had special significance in New York. That’s because it arrives as seemingly everyone in the state is fighting for their share of the pie known as the state budget.

The day, March 14, derives from the number — its shortened form, that is, which non-traumatized students will remember is 3.14 (or 3.1415, or 3.1415927).

Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid turned Pi Day into a funding pitch, suggesting that people donate $3.14 to his campaign, “so everyone can get a slice of the π, not just the 1%.”

In honor of Pi Day, it also would be great to see:

  • Every wealthy parent snared in the mushrooming college admissions scandal contribute $3.14 million to a scholarship fund for students who did not have the “advantages” those parents bestowed on their children.
  • President Donald Trump reduce his number of false or misleading statements to 3.14 per day.
  • The LIRR reduce its measure of a train being late to 3.14 minutes (it’s 6 minutes now).
  • An Oreo cookie with 3.14 calories (it’s 53 now).

Michael Dobie and Randi F. Marshall

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