As the 2020 campaign heats up, The Associated Press is exploring the stories presidential candidates tell about themselves, their families and the origins of their political drive. Who or what helped shape them? What drove them to public service? In an occasional series, the AP examines the candidates’ “origin story” _ the tale these men and women tell of what made them who they are _ to find what is formative, what may be lore, what they value and how it all helps shape them and their positions.
Sent July 21:
ELECTION 2020-BERNIE SANDERS-ORIGIN STORY
Never one to talk much about himself, Bernie Sanders embarked on his second presidential campaign by sharing stories of tough times as a boy in Brooklyn, though he largely avoids mention of the specific circumstances that framed his decision to leave New York behind. Recollections of friends and relatives, and an interview with the candidate, point to experiences including his mother’s struggle with poor health and the strain on the family when she died during Sanders’ freshman year of college. It’s one of the notable parallels between Sanders’ early life and his eventual embrace of politics focused on leveling the societal playing field by improving access to health care and equalizing pay. By National Writer Adam Geller. 1,890 words, photos, with an abridged version of 920 words.
Sent May 11
ELECTION 2020-KAMALA HARRIS-ORIGIN STORY
Speaking from the Senate floor for the first time, Kamala Harris expressed gratitude for a woman on whose shoulders she said she stood. Penning her autobiography, she interspersed the well-worn details of her resume with an extended ode to the one she calls “the reason for everything.” And taking the stage to announce her presidential candidacy, she framed it as a race grounded in the compassion and values of the person she credits for her fighting spirit. Though a decade has passed since Harris’ mother died, she remains a force in her daughter’s life and her White House bid. Again and again on the campaign trail, those who gather are hearing mention of the diminutive Indian immigrant the candidate calls her single greatest influence. By National Writer Matt Sedensky. 2,300 words, photos, with an abridged version of 895 words.
Sent March 29
ELECTION 2020-O’ROURKE-ORIGIN STORY
Beto O'Rourke didn't know what the text arriving to his flip phone meant. But the then-32-year-old knew it was from the woman he'd taken to Mexico on a blind date three days earlier, and he figured it was a good sign. For O'Rourke, crossing the border that night was by design, a test to make sure the woman who would eventually become his wife understood that his hometown of El Paso and Mexico’s Ciudad Juárez "are two halves of a larger community.” The former Texas congressman is now a presidential candidate, undergoing his own, far more elaborate test of character. But El Paso - and by extension Juarez - remains critical. O'Rourke has made the desert city a centerpiece of his public identity, a protagonist in his origin story and a talking point in his stump speeches. By Will Weissert. 2,600 words, photos.
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