Beto O’Rourke tells Oprah he will make decision on 2020 run ‘before the end of this month’

February 6, 2019

Beto O’Rourke tells Oprah he will make decision on 2020 run ‘before the end of this month’ Krista Kennell / Shutterstock.com

Failed Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke floated the possibility of a presidential bid during a recent interview with former daytime talk show host Oprah Winfrey.

Asked if he had established any deadlines for throwing his hat in the ring, O’Rourke said that he should have an answer by the end of this month.

Beto 2020?

During the interview, which will appear on Winfrey’s cable television network OWN on Feb. 16, O’Rourke talked about his failed Senate bid, his respect for former President Barack Obama, and his Oval Office aspirations. The former Texas congressman previously denied rumors that he was going to run in 2020, but he had a different answer when Winfrey pressed him on the subject.

O’Rourke said that he would make an announcement soon regarding a presidential campaign. “The serious answer is really soon — before the end of this month,” he told Winfrey. “That’s a big question for us to think through.”

Although O’Rourke lost a 2018 midterm race against incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the 46-year-old amassed over $70 million in campaign donations and was a perennial Hollywood favorite throughout the race. Superstar celebrities like R&B singer Beyoncé, basketball legend Lebron James, and LGBT comedian Ellen Degeneres endorsed the Democrat underdog in a campaign that attracted intense national scrutiny.   

Coulda, shoulda, woulda

Now, however, it appears that O’Rourke may seek to repackage some of that energy and apply it to opposing President Donald Trump in 2020. When asked about the ill-fated Senate race, the Texas Democrat said that he could have defeated Cruz, although he was short on details as to how he would have accomplished this.

“I don’t all the way know,” O’Rourke said when asked about the loss. “Certainly I could’ve done so many different things in that campaign… I know we could’ve won that race.”

Shifting gears, O’Rourke had a fanboy moment as he reflected on meeting Obama for the first time. “Even saying these words, it’s hard to believe that I’m saying I met with Barack Obama,” he said, “And I’m saying it to Oprah Winfrey.”

Although O’Rourke’s inner circle has reportedly met with former members of the Obama campaign regarding the pivotal states of Iowa and New Hampshire, he told Winfrey that Obama did not explicitly encourage him to run for president during their meeting.

“This is the phase for someone exploring a presidential campaign in that they’re doing everything they can to decide who they may want to run an organization and who they could turn to if he enters the race,” a former Obama aide told CNBC.

Crowded field

If O’Rourke decides to run, he will face a crowded field of Democratic contenders vying to take down President Donald Trump. So far, frontrunners include Sens. Kamala Harris (CA), Elizabeth Warren (MA), and Cory Booker (NJ). Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has received favorable results from early polling, plans to announce his decision to run sometime this month.

Winfrey, who galvanized supporters with a stirring Golden Globes speech in 2018, upset her adoring fan base last year when she dismissed calls for her to run in 2020, insisting that she lacks “the DNA for it.”

“I’ve always felt very secure and confident with myself in knowing what I could do and what I could not. And so it’s not something that interests me,” she said.

Some of the early buzz surrounding O’Rourke’s potential presidential bid have subsided following his Senate defeat. The Texas Democrat didn’t do himself any favors recently by broadcasting a teeth-cleaning session on Instagram and shaving a goatee, which has been mercilessly lampooned on social media.

There are no shortage of Democrats who want to take on Trump in 2020, and O’Rourke cannot afford to be caricatured as an out-of-touch progressive. On the other hand, his potential opponents have earned disparaging nicknames like “Spartacus” and “Pocahontas,” leaving the Democratic primary up for grabs in the coming months.

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Benjamin Baird

Benjamin Baird is a senior staff writer for the Conservative Institute. He is a veteran infantryman of Iraq and Afghanistan with over 1000 days in combat and holds a degree in Middle Eastern studies from the American Military University. Ben is a regular contributor at the Middle East Forum and has written for dozens of conservative publications, including The Daily Caller, American Spectator, American Thinker, New English Review and Jewish News Syndicate.