The Slatest

Beto O’Rourke Tells El Paso TV Station: “I’m Running” for President

Beto O'Rourke speaks to a crowd of marchers during the anti-Trump 'March for Truth' in El Paso, Texas, on Feb. 11, 2019.
Beto O’Rourke is betting his mojo will translate to the presidential race.
PAUL RATJE/Getty Images

Former Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke confirmed to an El Paso TV station Wednesday what seemed inevitable whenever the jocular drink of water decided to wrap up whatever NOLS course he was on—O’Rourke will run for president. “I’m really proud of what El Paso did and what El Paso represents,” O’Rourke said in a text to KTSM El Paso. “It’s a big part of why I’m running. This city is the best example of this country at its best.” O’Rourke, who was a three-term congressman representing El Paso before running against Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, is expected to make the formal announcement that he will seek the Democratic nomination on Thursday.

The leak and the scheduled launch of Beto 2020 comes just days after the documentary Running with Beto debuted at South by Southwest and mere hours after a Vanity Fair cover story titled “Beto O’Rourke: I’m Just Born To Do This” dropped on the internet Wednesday evening. “You can probably tell that I want to run,” he told Vanity Fair. “I do. I think I’d be good at it.” Things got a bit cringey from there. “I want to be in it,” he said. “Man, I’m just born to be in it, and want to do everything I humanly can for this country at this moment.” It’s clear that Beto’s mojo is appealing—just ask Ted Cruz—but, as Slate’s Josh Voorhees points out, it’s not totally clear what the raison d’etre is of Beto’s White House dash. Other than, you know, doing it for the story.

Now, Beto will have to convert enthusiasm into a mission of some kind that extends beyond being a good dude. That process apparently starts now. O’Rourke had previously been scheduled to head to Iowa this weekend, ostensibly to campaign for a Democratic state Senate candidate in a special election, but as the Austin American-Statesman notes, that will surely be expanded into a full blown campaign launch in the first caucus state, which is scheduled to hold its contest on February 3, 2020. O’Rourke will now head to Iowa Thursday and “by Saturday night, the three-term congressman from El Paso is expected to visit a dozen of Iowa’s 99 counties,” the Dallas Morning News reports. “For his first stop of the 2020 campaign, O’Rourke is heading to a coffee shop in Burlington, a small town in the southeast corner of Iowa, and then a union hall, according to local Democratic officials. These are far more intimate settings than huge crowds he attracted in the Senate race, or the 10,000-strong counter-rally he led last month when President Donald Trump came to his hometown to pitch the merits of a border wall.”