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Beto O'Rouke Makes It Official: He's Running for President in 2020
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14 Mar 2019 03:32 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Beto O'Rourke (Image source: crockodile at Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

Only in this confusing Donald Trump-era of politics does a candidate with limited public service experience fail at his bid for senator, then a few months later become a candidate for president with a realistic chance of winning. It seems crazy, but it's true. Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) has officially announced he is running for president in 2020. 

The 46-year-old was a member of the El Paso City Council from 2005 until 2011. He became a member of the House in 2013, with his time in office running out this past January. He challenged Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for his seat last November and lost.

 

Quickly after he lost, his name was being lobbied around as a presidential candidate. He embarked on an exploratory trip through America and sat for an interview with Oprah Winfrey. On Thursday he made it official. 

A video was made public Thursday of O'Rourke promising to run a "positive campaign ... to bring out the very best in every single one of us" with the same flavor he showed in his failed bid for the Senate that brought him notoriety — national notoriety.

 

He announced that he believes the U.S. is in peril, making the 2020 election "a defining moment of truth for this country." 

"The challenges that we face right now, the interconnected crises in our economy, our democracy and our climate, have never been greater, and they will either consume us, or they will afford us the greatest opportunity to unleash the genius of the United States of America," he said in the video while sitting next to his wife of 14 years, Amy Hoover Sanders.

 

This was something O'Rourke was nearly drafted into, with people suggesting a run just after he lost to Cruz. It should be worrisome to the other Democratic candidates, as he's shown he has an ability to wow the public, something Democrats haven't seen since another formerly young lawmaker he is often compared to, Barack Obama, made his historic run in 2008. 

In a well-timed interview with Vanity Fair that was published on Wednesday, he said of a run for president, "Man, I'm just born to be in it and want to do everything I humanly can for this country at this moment."

 

O'Rourke's immediate plans are to travel the country, with a kickoff event in El Paso on March 30. 

He's a native of El Paso, born and raised there. His mother ran a furniture store in the city, and his father was a politician. He picked up the nickname of "Beto" when his family wanted to establish a difference between him and his grandfather he was named after, Robert Francis O'Rourke.

 

In his 2018 campaign he supported a ban on the sale of assault rifles and created a public option for health insurance and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He also promised to vote to impeach Trump. 

He explained at a Houston town hall last summer that he supports football players who take a knee during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality, explaining "reasonable people can disagree on this issue, and it makes them no less American to come down on a different conclusion."

 

What may particularly bother Trump, other than a vote to impeach him, is that O'Rourke has a knack for fundraising as well as drawing large crowds. Yet, he also promised he would "work with anyone, any time, anywhere, including President Trump." He even stole a Trump nickname in referring to Cruz as "Lyin' Ted" at a debate. 

When Trump held a campaign rally for his border wall last month, O'Rourke held a counter-rally and had the crowd chanting his name. He noted afterward, "I've never been more optimistic."

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