Beto O’Rourke announces 2020 run for presidency

Texas Democrat, who has drawn comparisons to Obama, tells supporters his campaign seeks to unite a very divided country

Beto ORourke, the former congressman who narrowly lost to Ted Cruz in the 2018 Texas Senate race, has announced he will seek the Democratic nomination for president.


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Ending months of speculation over his plans, ORourke threw his hat into a crowded primary field vying for the partys blessing to challenge Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

ORourke, 46, rose to national prominence during the 2018 midterms, when his bid to unseat Cruz garnered unprecedented grassroots support and a historic fundraising haul.

Although he fell short, ORourke outperformed expectations for any Democrat in the deeply conservative state of Texas, falling less than three percentage points behind Cruz, the Republican incumbent.

Despite his defeat, ORourke swiftly emerged as a top Democratic presidential contender, drawing comparisons to Barack Obama for his charisma and hopeful message.

This is going to be a positive campaign that seeks to bring out the very best from every single one of us, that seeks to unite a very divided country, ORourke said in a video announcement posted on Thursday morning. We saw the power of this in Texas.

ORourke stated his intention in the video to travel this country and listen to those I seek to serve. He said he will then return to El Paso on 30 March for a campaign kickoff and invited would-be supporters to the greatest grassroots campaign this country has ever seen.

Quick guide

Which Democrats are running for 2020?

Cory Booker, New Jersey senator

Booker first made a name as the hands-on mayor of Newark. Known for his focus on criminal justice reform and impassioned speeches on immigration, he has though been criticized for ties to Wall Street.

Pete Buttigieg, South Bend mayor

Buttigieg wants to be the first openly gay millennial president. A Harvard graduate and Rhodes scholar, he became the youngest mayor of a mid-size US city at the age of 29. As a Navy Reserve lieutenant he deployed to Afghanistan while serving as mayor.


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Julin Castro, former housing and urban development secretary

Castro casts himself as an antidote to Trump and the adminstration’s hardline immigration policies. The grandson of a Mexican immigrant and raised by single mother, the 44-year-old Democrat is one of the most prominent Latinos in Democratic politics.

John Delaney, former Maryland congressman

He has delivered his message of pragmatism to voters in all 99 of Iowas counties since he officially kicked off the race in July 2017. The multimillionaire banking entrepreneur wants to build a big-tent party that appeals to independents and moderate Republicans.

Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii congresswoman

An Iraq war veteran who has vowed to run a campaign focused on issues of war and peace. Gabbard made history as the first Samoan American and the first Hindu elected to Congress. But she has drawn criticism for meeting with Syrias president Bashar al-Assad, and progressives are wary of her past conservative views on on social issues.

Kirsten Gillibrand, New York senator

Years before the #MeToo movement, the New York senator was leading efforts in Congress to combat sexual assault in the military and on college campuses. The former corporate lawyer has embraced a slate of economic ideas supported by the partys progressive wing.

Kamala Harris, California senator

Harris is one of Trumps fiercest critics, and has built a national reputation grilling administration officials during their confirmation hearings. A former state attorney general and the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, Harris believes she has the unique profile to take on Trump.

John Hickenlooper, former Governor of Colorado

Before he served two terms as governor of Colorado, the 67-year-old Democrat worked as a geologist for a petroleum company. After a lay off, he switched careers and opened a successful brewpub in Denver that helped to revitalize the citys downtown.


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Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington

Inslee is running as the only candidate who will make defeating climate change our nations number one priority. As the country experiences more powerful hurricanes, scorching wildfires and submerged coastlines, polls show public concern is growing.

Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota senator

On Election Night 2018, Klobuchar coasted to a third term as senator in a state Trump almost won. Next morning she was on every short list of potential presidential candidates. Supporters say her success with rural voters makes her a formidable candidate in the Rust Belt, while her calm demeanour provides a clear contrast with Trump.

Beto O’Rourke, former Texas congressman

A one-time guitarist for an El Paso punk band called Foss, ORourke had kept a relatively low profile as a three-term congressman with little name recognition. He rose to national prominence during the 2018 midterms, when his bid to unseat Senator Ted Cruzgarnered unprecedented grassroots support and a historic fundraising haul.

Bernie Sanders, Vermont senator

Sanders turned a long-shot, anti-establishment bid for the presidency into a political revolution that energized the partys progressive base. His political career began nearly 40 years ago, but it wasnt until his 2016 run that Sanders became a national figure as a new generation of Democrats and 2020 contenders embraced his populist economic policies.

Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts senator

Her sharp criticism of Wall Street and big corporations has made Warren a favorite among progressive activists, and she will campaign on a message of a rigged economic system and income inequality.

Marianne Williamson, author

This is not the spiritual guru and a new age authors first foray into politics: in 2014, she mounted an unsuccessful congressional bid in California. Her entry adds some star-power to the race that may attract more celebrities.

Andrew Yang, businessman

A former tech executive and entrepreneur running the longest of long shot campaigns centered on the perils of automation. His central plank is a plan to give every American adult a salary of $1,000 per month, paid for by a tax on companies that benefit the most from automation.

Lauren Gambino and Sam Morris

ORourke has joined what is shaping up to be a diverse Democratic field that includes senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, and Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard. ORourke will also be up against fellow Texas native Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio and housing secretary under Obama who launched his own presidential campaign in January.

A onetime guitarist for an El Paso punk band called Foss, prior to his Senate bid, ORourke had kept a relatively low profile as a three-term congressman with little name recognition.

But as his upstart campaign to defeat Cruz gained steam, ORourke transformed into an overnight celebrity who earned the approval of public figures ranging from Beyonc to LeBron James. He went on to amass a record-breaking $38m in the third quarter of his race against Cruz, in what will likely mark a major fundraising advantage over the other Democratic contenders.

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Donald Trump, in tweets, has called ORourke a flake and a total lightweight who will never be allowed to turn Texas into Venezuela!.

The president has also mocked ORourkes nickname, calling him a stone-cold phony named Robert Francis ORourke, sometimes referred to as Beto, during a stump speech for Cruz during the midterms.

He pretends to be a moderate, Trump continued, but hes actually a radical open-borders left-winger. On the left, some have in fact labeled ORourke a moderate who has yet to prove his progressive bona fides .

In separate remarks to reporters that same day, Trump also called ORourke highly overrated.

When I heard about him, I figured he must be something a little special. Hes not, Trump said.

ORourke has the backing of a network of advocates who have independently been campaigning for him to run. The Draft Beto organisation has already mobilised thousands of grassroots volunteers, many on college campuses, and held 30 house parties in nine states.

Its co-founder Nate Lerner told the Guardian: Now the real work begins. Were shifting the grassroots, financial, and political resources weve built over to Betos campaign and focusing entirely on electing Beto in 2020.

For all the buzz about his charisma, grassroots appeal and dedication to campaigning for every last vote, ORourke does not have a substantial track record in Washington for legislation or making his voice heard on domestic and foreign policy.

And his voting record in the Capitol showed, according to analysis published last year, that even as ORourke represented one of the most solidly Democratic congressional districts in the United States, he has on several occasions broken with the majority of House Democrats and voted in line with the Trump administration.

Meanwhile, Republican opposition campaigning ahead of ORourkes swing through Iowa this week is focused on portraying him as a product of white wealth and privilege, and is no Obama, who overcame significant struggles to reach the top.


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