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Beto O'Rourke. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Stringer/Getty Images

2020 contender Beto O'Rourke issued a relaunch of his campaign Thursday, refocusing his fight to take on President Trump and shifting campaign efforts away from early primary states, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: The move allays speculation that O'Rourke will drop out of the presidential contest to pursue a Senate bid in Texas.

  • O'Rourke has been in the spotlight since a mass shooting killed 22 people in his hometown of El Paso in early August. O'Rourke said he felt even more determined to pursue the Democratic nomination after the attack, stating, "I can meet [Trump] on this issue in very personal terms and from a place that no one else can."

Between the lines: Despite a wave of promoted public appearances, O'Rourke's campaign is still considered a long shot. After 2 lukewarm debate performances and low polling numbers, his candidacy largely stalled.

  • An op-ed in the Houston Chronicle last week urged O'Rourke to "come home" and run for Senate. "The chances of winning the race you’re in now are vanishingly small. And Texas needs you," the paper's Editorial Board wrote.

What he's saying: O'Rourke says he will shift away from the traditional primary-states schedule most presidential contenders follow and instead focus on immigrant-rich communities, making gun control his key talking point.

The bottom line: While O'Rourke has a relaunch strategy, this is not the first time he's tried to re-establish himself as a viable contender.

Go deeper: Beto O'Rourke on the issues, in under 500 words

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Health

Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's plan to accelerate the reopening of K-8 schools faces major challenges from a still out-of-control pandemic and more contagious coronavirus variants.

Why it matters: The longer American kids miss in-person schooling, the further they fall behind. But the uncertain state of the science on the role young children play in the pandemic continues to complicate efforts to reopen schools.

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.