Aug 11, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Beto O'Rourke says he's more determined to pursue nomination after El Paso

Beto O'Rourke

Beto O'Rourke consoles a man at a makeshift memorial outside the El Paso Walmart where a mass shooter killed 22 people. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

In an interview with the New York Times, 2020 candidate Beto O'Rourke said he's even more determined to win the Democratic nomination after the mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso, dismissing calls to use his recalibrated time in the spotlight to make a high-profile run for Senate.

"I'm running for president. ... At a time that the president is attacking this community, this part of the world, the U.S.-Mexico border, cities of immigrants, that’s where I am. That’s where I live. That’s where we’re raising our family. I can meet him on this issue in very personal terms and from a place that no one else can.”

The big picture: O'Rourke's campaign has largely stalled in the months since he jumped in the race, with his massive early fundraising totals overshadowed by a pair of mild debate performances and lackluster polling. But in the face of tragedy, the former congressman has become an ambassador for those affected by gun violence, positioning himself as a foil to Trump through newly impassioned speeches and appearances on cable news.

  • A clip of a frustrated O'Rourke went viral last week after he was asked by a reporter if there's anything Trump could do to improve his relationship with the Hispanic American community.
  • Along with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, O'Rourke also became one of the first candidates to label Trump a "white supremacist."

Where it stands: A Monmouth University poll conducted Aug. 1–4 found O’Rourke with less than 1% of support from likely Iowa Democratic caucus voters, down from 6% in April.

  • O'Rourke took a break from the campaign trail this week to remain home in Texas and be with victims of the shootings, while his competitors descended on the Iowa State Fair.
  • He raised $3.6 million in the 2nd quarter of 2019, after pulling in $9.4 million in Q1.
  • O'Rourke's campaign suspended ads and fundraising efforts following the shooting. He is expected to soon return to the trail, possibly later this week.

What they're saying: Former Texas State Sen. Eliot Shapleigh told the Times that O'Rourke's rhetoric in the wake of. the shooting has "crystallized his message in a way that’s been beneficial."

“He’s an emotional guy, that’s how he connects with audiences. I think this tragedy will help him do that around the country.”

Go deeper: O'Rourke says Trump's "bizarre behavior" is a distraction from real problems

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