Beto O’Rourke Launches Presidential Bid

Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D,Texas) campaigns in Houston, Texas, November 11, 2017. (William Philpott/Reuters)

Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas Congressman who rose to prominence during a high-profile Senate loss to Ted Cruz in November, announced Thursday that he will enter the crowded Democratic 2020 presidential primary field.

“This is a defining moment of truth for this country and for every single one of us,” O’Rourke said in a video announcing his candidacy. “The challenges that we face right now, the interconnected crises in our economy, our democracy and our climate have never been greater.”

“They will either consume us, or they will afford us the greatest opportunity to unleash the genius of the United States of America,” he added.

O’Rourke, 46, is kicking off his campaign with a three-day trip through Eastern Iowa, where he will sell his vision of national unity to the country’s first Democratic primary voters. O’Rourke emphasized the importance of putting aside partisan politics during his maiden address in Keokuk, Iowa, arguing it would prove necessary to confront challenges like climate change and reforming the health care system.

Asked about climate change specifically, O’Rourke rallied would-be supporters behind his call for a dramatic and admittedly costly approach to combatting climate change, enthusiastically endorsing the green new deal resolution and praising the progressive freshman Democrats who have pushed the proposal.

Support for the failed Senate candidate has fallen from an 11 point high in December to just five points, according to a Des Moines Register/CNN poll released Saturday.

During his midterm contest against Senator Ted Cruz (R.Texas) O’Rourke shattered fundraising records, finishing the campaign with some $80 million in donations. Strong fundraising and high-profile media coverage propelled O’Rourke to within three points of Cruz, an unprecedented finish for a Democrat in a state-wide Texas race.

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