O’Rourke plots return from 2020 sidelines

Persistent calls for the former Texas congressman to run for Senate have exasperated his supporters.

14.8.2019

For O’Rourke’s campaign staff, the former congressman’s response to the El Paso shooting has served as an inspiring force in an operation that has seen weak fundraising and polling

Persistent calls for the former Texas congressman to run for Senate have exasperated his supporters.

Initial signs for O’Rourke aren’t especially promising, as the former congressman prepares to resume his presidential campaign on Thursday.

“Beto, come home,” the headline read. “Texas needs you.”

For more than a week since the shooting, O’Rourke served as a passionate voice for his border city and for immigrants more generally, with his wrenching criticism of President Donald Trump. And if O’Rourke had wanted to run for Senate, this would have been the time to make the jump — summoned home by tragedy, not limping back amid a sputtering campaign.

Or, as a more guttural O’Rourke put it to a television reporter recently, “He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals … Members of the press, what the fuck?”

“The tragedy gave him a bump in the minds of the media,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a longtime Democratic strategist based in New York. “Is it likely that he will be the president of the United States? It is more likely that Texas will secede from the union again. Is it likely that he will raise the money needed to run a presidential campaign in the 21st century? … The answer is also, ‘Unlikely.’ But does he have one moment to make his case because of something extraordinarily awful that occurred? The answer is, ‘Yes.’”

to capitalize on the shooting. The only fundraising emails he has sent since the massacre directed donors not to his campaign, but to charities to help with the response to the shooting and, separately, to assist immigrants following the Trump administration’s immigration raids in Mississippi last week. He refused to call donors and, until recently, to discuss campaign plans, according to two people close to his campaign.

Instead, O’Rourke drew acknowledgment — even praise — from his competitors. At the Wing Ding dinner in Clear Lake, Sen. Cory Booker began his remarks by reminding the audience that O’Rourke “didn’t miss this because of a family obligation or because of a conflict in schedule.”

And at the Iowa State Fair, O’Rourke’s fellow Texan and presidential rival Julián Castro said, “Congressman O’Rourke, I think, has done a wonderful job of expressing all of the emotion that all of us have about what happened in El Paso.”

Of O’Rourke’s weak polling, Brown said, “The only thing polling matters for at this point is getting to the debates, and he’s already there. So, the best thing you can do with polling right now is set it on fucking fire.”

Read more: POLITICO
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