Beto O’Rourke sent a thrill through his most loyal supporters on Monday when he said that he is no longer ruling out a run for president in 2020. If he does decide to run he will join many nationally prominent Democrats in an already-crowded primary field.
“Running for Senate, I was 100 percent focused on our campaign, winning that race and then serving the next six years in the United States Senate,” O’Rourke told reporters after a town hall forum in El Paso. “Now that that is no longer possible, you know, we’re thinking through a number of things.”
Asked if his position on 2020 is different than it was before the November election, when he said he would not run for president, O’Rourke said, “Yeah, yeah it is.”
Two weeks ago we reported that many Democrats were calling on the Texas congressman to throw his hat in the ring for 2020. We wrote “Democrats all over the country are saying that O’Rourke should run for president because he has the potential to win the primaries.”
Yesterday was O’Rourke’s first public event since losing his senate race to Ted Cruz. He did make clear that he would not make a final decision about running until after he leaves Congress in early January. Many other possible 2020 Democratic contenders are expected to announce their candidacies in January also.
In his speech he rebuked Donald Trump on issues ranging from immigration to taxes and military spending abroad, which made it appear that he was putting together his 2020 platform already.
Denouncing the Trump administration for its treatment of refugees at the U.S.-Mexico border, such as the use of tear gas, O’Rourke said the current immigration crisis as “our moment of truth.”
“This one is on all of us, the way that we choose to respond,” he said. “To give in to the paranoia and the hype and the fear and that bullshit that characterizes so much of the national conversation about something that we understand better than anyone else right now. Or for us to stand up and to lead on this issue.”
O’Rourke’s comments provided a stark contrast to the words of Trump who said that “Mexico should move the Migrants back to their countries.”
O’Rourke had previously expressed reservations about going through a presidential campaign after two years of running for the Texas senate seat. He said:
“Amy and I have talked a little bit about next steps, and the conversation has started with family, and really has not gotten past that — what’s going to be best for our family. Our kids are 12, 10 and 8 now, and whatever we do, we want to be together. So being in El Paso makes just a ton of sense to us, just from that basis.”
Then he added:
“I’m also, obviously, really interested in the direction that this country takes, want to be as effective as I can making sure that it goes in a positive direction and contributing in whatever way that I can. What form that takes — whether it involves running for office again, whether there’s something that I can do as just a citizen — I don’t know, we haven’t really been able to get our heads around that.”
If he decides to run O’Rourke will face some daunting competition,and he also would be forced to play catch up with the many other Democrats who have already started to put together teams of donors and political operatives. But even though Beto does not have a presidential campaign infrastructure he does have many of the qualities that Americans are looking for in a president.
The 2020 presidential race has barely begun, and it is clear that if Beto O’Rourke does decide to join that race he will be a serious contender and should not be overlooked by the other candidates in the race.