With the first Democratic presidential debates coming up in two weeks,
That's all good for O'Rourke. Most of the 23 candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination would gladly trade places with O'Rourke for those kind of bookings. But the context and tenor of the questioning is less good. It is why O'Rourke hasn't lived up to the potential he evidenced in his ultimately losing 2018
COLBERT: Last time you were here, you were running for
O'ROURKE: Definitely not. You know, in
COLBERT: Very close. 2.6% in
O'ROURKE: But we helped others win their races,
COLBERT: There are some polls. I'm sure you've seen that 60% of
O'ROURKE: I just think given where we are,in this country, this moment of truth on everything that you could care about: Will we be up to the challenge of confronting climate change before it's too late? Will we be able to extend health care to every single American? Will we ensure that our democracy under attack by powers from without the country, under attack by our very president, can we say that? I want to be in the most consequential position to make sure that I do everything I can to deliver for this country. So I want to run to serve as president of
And I'll say this for
From the Statesman's
The poll released Wednesday showed that 60% of
O'Rourke dismissed the results of the poll in an interview with
"There will be some really wonderful candidates running against
On Morning Joe, O'Rourke was questioned by
SCARBOROUGH: You've actually done exactly what I've seen a lot of great campaigners do. You kept your head down. You listen, you forget all the noise. Forget about the ground noise. And you just started going from one town hall meeting to another. You were knocking on doors. You're getting there, you didn't care whether the press following you or not. And you turn around like a month or two later. And some pretty incredible things are happening. And it's not reflecting yet possibly in all the polls, but we were talking about how
O'ROURKE: Yeah. I really feel like we've turned a corner and as you just suggested, really focused on the people who will decide this election. So Monday morning,
BRZEZINSKI: So then the question is, why not run for
O'ROURKE: My answer is that I want to do the greatest good for this country at our defining moment of truth. And the way that I campaigned for
GEIST: So congressman, because of the extraordinary race that you did run, where you came with a whisker of beating a very famous Republican senator, in a red state, there were huge expectations for you coming into this race. You had a lot of national media attention, a lot of famous supporters, you were a star in the Democratic Party. So are you as surprised as some people that you sit at fifth or sixth in most national polls right now? And I'll take from you the caveat that it's early, because we all know that, right? But do you think you should be a little higher than you are?
O'ROURKE: Yeah, I think it reflects an extraordinary field of candidates. The greatest collection of people running for the presidency in the history of this country. You look at the diversity, diversity of background and biography, experience and expertise that's been brought to bear on this challenge of defeating Trump, but also of climate. of health care for all and making sure that college is affordable, or comprehensive immigration reform after 30 years of talking about it, I think is a very good problem to have. And as you alluded, I don't know that there's been a poll June, the year before the presidential election that has accurately predicted the outcome. Nor has there ever been a race in which I participated, including my first race for
GEIST: So but in your heart of hearts,
O'ROURKE: Who would not want to be doing better in a poll? Of course. Absolutely. And I hope that insofar as the polls are accurate, over time, they reflect the incredibly hard work that our team, this extraordinary group of volunteers on the ground in the states in which we're campaigning, are doing, That the doors that they're knocking on, the phone calls that they're making, the pop up offices that they're hosting, but our ultimate metric is these caucus commitments that we're getting in
O'Rourke was asked about preparing for the debate.
O"ROURKE: We're gonna have 60 seconds to answer a question about the economy or foreign policy, or health care or the health of our democracy. So I'm doing my best with a an extraordinary team to make sure that I get across in one minute just who I am. What's different about me than the other contenders? And then the specific policy proposals that we would implement as president. That's a tall order to get in, in under 60 seconds, but I'm training every day, both in terms of the information that I take in, and in practicing responses that try to get at the heart of achieving those three objectives. In every single answer, we've got a great problem, we've got more than 20 people running to serve this country in the most consequential position of public trust, at the most defining moments in our history. So I'm grateful to be on the stage with this extraordinary field. I truly hope to distinguish myself based on my record, my ability of making this democracy work for everyone. And the fact that democracy is at the core of this campaign. Last week, we set out a bold set of democracy reform proposals, bringing 55 million new Americans into our democracy through automatic and same day voter registration, getting barriers out of the way with a new Voting Rights Act. So no more voter purges in
O'Rourke then proceeded to demonstrate how he might mix it up on a debate stage with
O'Rourke: "He is."pic.twitter.com/NHIrznMwUs
On Sunday, it was This Week.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to This Week. It may be June, but this week it feels a bit more like January in
And a brand new poll from the
O'ROURKE: Good morning.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to start with that
Eleven percent back in December, five percent in March, now two percent. What's your analysis of what's gone wrong for your campaign, how do you turn it around?
O'ROURKE: You know, I don't know that this many months out from the caucuses in
We never would have tried to take on
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the trend matters, doesn't it?
O'ROURKE: And we wouldn't have been able to lead the largest grassroots effort in the history of the state of
I was just in
It's the volunteers, it's the phone calls, it's the canvassing that allows us to connect with the people who will decide this election. So, you know, these polls this far out I really don't think describe the full picture.
We've got a lot of time, a lot of work, but thankfully we have a number of extraordinary volunteers who are going to make this possible.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you don't think you need to do anything different then, than what you've been doing?
O'ROURKE: Look, I can do a much better job of engaging nationally, but we've held more town halls, answered more questions than any other candidate. And it's what I enjoy doing the most, learning from the people whom I hope to serve.
I think engaging with you on this program and allowing Americans who aren't able to attend one of these town halls to hear my answers to your questions, my vision for this country, what might set me apart from this extraordinary field of candidates who are running to defeat Trump and to bring this country together again.
Certainly I can do more of that, but again I think the fundamentals of this campaign, meeting people, being with them, showing up with the courage of our convictions and addressing how we're going to make sure that healthcare is affordable, that everyone can participate in this economy, that we confront the challenge of climate before it's too late and that we do this in a way that ensures that our democracy fully works.
We announced a set of bold democracy reform proposals just this week to bring tens of millions more of our fellow Americans in and to remove barriers with a new Voting Rights Act that ensures that every vote counts and that every voice is heard.
If we match that with an end to gerrymandering and getting big, unaccountable money and PACs out of our politics, this democracy is going to be up to the challenge. And no one has worked harder to make sure that this democracy works for everyone than I have, whether it's the campaign that we ran in
This is what my life's work has been about.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's one of the ideas that sets you apart, that voting rights proposal you put forward this week. But one of the things we saw in the
Why are you that person?
O'ROURKE: Look, when
I live in and am raising my kids on a beautiful part of the
So this history of including people, making our democracy work, and frankly, George, the fact that we can bring
So, three months into what has been a tough start for his campaign, and two weeks out from what could be the very consequential first debates, O'Rourke's candidacy teeters between the very real potential and skills as a candidate he demonstrated in 2018 in
O'Rourke has become increasingly willing to play the cable news game, making frequent appearances on
According to analytics site FiveThirtyEight, O'Rourke is getting mentioned on
Despite announcing comprehensive proposals to reform the
He's moved left -- O'Rourke wants to vastly reduce immigration enforcement and create an affirmative, federal right to abortion -- as his campaign has continued, but O'Rourke has been unable to break out with Democratic voters. In the process, he may have given up the thing that made him so appealing to
"A lot of the things that made Beto an attractive candidate against
And yet as
Near dusk on a muggy Saturday night in
Those in line at the opening of O'Rourke's local headquarters ranged from retired nurse
At the same time almost to the minute, The
In covering presidential politics, there are moments when you have to choose between the polls and what you see with your own eyes. After following O'Rourke for most of two days, I am going with my instincts: The solid, attentive crowds of more than a hundred that he attracted for Friday town meetings in smaller southern
O'Rourke is willing to admit that he has stumbled out of the starting gate, telling me, "I think I could have gotten off on a better foot, for sure."
At a Saturday morning house party in
When a three-month-old magazine cover is mentioned out of the blue as a near-disqualification for a candidate, it says something about the self-destructive power of the words. The quotation in question made O'Rourke appear almost messianic in his inflated sense of himself: "I want to be in it. Man, I'm just born to be in it."
The Vanity Fair cover was part of a larger perception that O'Rourke's presidential campaign was built around little more than skateboarding and live-streaming his visit to his dentist hygienist. I will confess that before I saw him in
But the danger of clichés in politics is that they prevent you from ever looking beyond them. Certainly, there was nothing flashy about O'Rourke's visit Friday morning to
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