Beto O'Rourke, the Texan who gained a national following with his long-shot election battle against U.S. Senator Ted Cruz previous year, will seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, a source close to the campaign said on Wednesday.
His social media presence and huge fundraising power lifted him from a little-known three-term congressman to a Democratic rockstar with a following that stretched well beyond Texas.
O'Rourke enters the race with the presumed ability to raise huge sums online from small donors, as he did during his Senate run.
When the Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll was first run in December, O'Rourke placed third, the top choice of 11 percent. O'Rourke will have to make a robust argument about why Democrats should instead back a white man.
O'Rourke, whose given name is Robert Francis, acquired his nickname while growing up in El Paso, Texas. O'Rourke, who critics say has offered little details about where he stands on myriad issues, will face a test on whether he can match up with policy heavyweights like Senator Elizabeth Warren of MA. I think the American people are going to have a chance to decide this at the ballot box in November 2020 and perhaps that's the best way for us to resolve these outstanding questions'. He will hold a launch event in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, on March 30.
The trip will serve as the first test of whether O'Rourke can carry to the national political stage the pop-star appeal he showed in Texas previous year, drawing enthusiastic crowds and $80 million in campaign donations. He visited with students in the key swing state of Wisconsin. He outlined challenges facing the United States, from immigration to climate change, saying, "The foundational challenge to get all of this done, is to fix our democracy".
With his presidential effort, O'Rourke is hoping to leverage the fame he gained with his Senate race.
Building a national presidential operation, however, is a different matter.
Meanwhile, a source tied to O'Rourke's campaign confirmed to Reuters that the ex-congressman would be running.
"I'm really proud of what El Paso did and what El Paso represents", he wrote. "It's a big part of why I'm running".
Last month, he appeared to try to separate himself further from that wing of the party when he pointedly called himself a capitalist.
"The only way for us to live up to the promise of America is to give it our all and to give it for all of us", O'Rourke, 46, said in a video release.
O'Rourke is the 15th Democrat in the field and the second from Texas, and his opponents took notice.
Those who have already announced include Senators Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as Representative Tulsi Gabbard and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro.
King began by asking O'Rourke if he still feels Trump should be impeached. I've never seen so much hand movement.