Beto O'Rourke campaigns in Iowa over the weekend. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beto O’Rourke has projected a mostly blank canvas during the first week of his 2020 presidential campaign — often asking voters for solutions rather than outlining policy specifics himself.

Why it matters: Most of the 2020 Dems don't have huge differences in their policy visions. So personality becomes paramount in these early days.

  • "We’re going to define ourselves by our aspirations, our ambitions and the ability to bring this country together," he said in Milwaukee.

Be smart ... O'Rourke has something you can't buy: People are interested in him and excited about him. Now, his challenge is putting meat on the bone.

  • On March 30 (a week from Saturday), O'Rourke will hold his official campaign kickoff in his hometown of El Paso, Texas. The campaign says he "will lay out his priorities and his vision ... to move this country forward."
  • After a rocky rollout, O'Rourke has to get the substance and calibration of that speech just right — his one chance to make a first impression on most voters amid a crowded field.

As in the 2016 election, voters in 2020 have a lot of feelings about what's wrong with the country, and want to project those feelings onto someone.

  • "They want to see a leader with a vision who they can believe in and someone they think can beat Trump," said Jim Messina, campaign manager for President Obama's re-election. "No one has a policy platform after two days."
  • In 2016, Trump tapped into the American's rage and pain. He made people feel seen who had felt ignored. O'Rourke is making a similar play by focusing on massive challenges of the age, from climate change to white privilege to an overwhelming feeling of political division.

O'Rourke has talked policy more than you might realize from the coverage:

  • He has proposed banning assault weapons, wants to create a public option for health insurance, favors a pathway to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants, and advocated for debt-free college.
  • But, as the Washington Post's Jenna Johnson writes: "As a presidential candidate, O’Rourke has heavily focused not on specifics but on two sentiments: positivity and humility."

The bottom line: Beto's opening feat — raising more than any other 2020 Democrat in his campaign's first 24 hours — shows his potential as a vessel for voters' hopes, dreams, and fears.

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Coronavirus squeezes the "sandwich generation"

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

As the coronavirus poses risks and concerns for the youngest and oldest Americans, the generations in the middle are buckling under the increasing strain of having to take care of both.

Why it matters: People that make up the so-called sandwich generations are typically in their 30s, 40s and 50s, and in their prime working years. The increasing family and financial pressures on these workers means complications for employers, too.

Why Scranton matters again in 2020

Biden and Clinton visit Biden's childhood home in Scranton in 2016. Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The hometown of Joe Biden and "The Office" is polishing its perennial status as a guidepost for the nation's political mood.

Driving the news: Biden returns to Scranton, Pa., today with a campaign stop just outside the city limits at a metalworking plant, where he'll deliver remarks on a plan to create jobs and "help America build back better."

Updated 11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 a.m. ET: 12,051,561 — Total deaths: 549,735 — Total recoveries — 6,598,230Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5 a.m. ET: 3,055,144 — Total deaths: 132,309 — Total recoveries: 953,420 — Total tested: 37,532,612Map.
  3. 2020: Houston mayor cancels Texas Republican convention.
  4. Public health: Deaths are rising in hotspots — Déjà vu sets in as testing issues rise and PPE dwindles.
  5. Travel: United warns employees it may furlough 45% of U.S. workforce How the pandemic changed mobility habits, by state.
  6. Education: New York City schools will not fully reopen in fallHarvard and MIT sue Trump administration over rule barring foreign students from online classes.