House Democrat on O'Rourke: 'I wouldn't count him out yet'

Rep. Sean MaloneySean Patrick MaloneyHouse Democrat on O'Rourke: 'I wouldn't count him out yet' Democratic lawmaker accuses Republicans of using 9/11 victims fund as 'bargaining chip' New York Rep. Maloney endorses Gillibrand for president MORE (D-N.Y.) on Friday stood by his early endorsement of Beto O’Rourke in the Democratic presidential race, saying he doesn’t think anyone should count the former Texas congressman out just yet.

Maloney, who backed O’Rourke just hours after he launched his campaign in March, said in an interview with Hill.TV that he believes O’Rourke is well-positioned to represent the party as a whole, even if polling suggests otherwise.

“There is essentially a lane here for somebody who is not the [former] vice president, who represents a new generation and who can represent the whole coalition of the Democratic Party,” Maloney said, referring to the race's current frontrunner, Joe BidenJoe Biden2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally Can Biden's canceled cancer initiative be salvaged? Biden's health care gaffe shows he's not ready for prime time MORE.

“I wouldn’t count him out yet,” he added. 

Maloney maintained that O’Rourke is the right choice to take on President TrumpDonald John TrumpAmash responds to 'Send her back' chants at Trump rally: 'This is how history's worst episodes begin' McConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Trump blasts 'corrupt' Puerto Rico's leaders amid political crisis MORE in the 2020 election and would make an "outstanding president," citing his personal experience working alongside the former Texas congressman during his six years in the House.

“I know him as a close friend, I know his family, I know what’s in his heart,” he told Hill.TV. “He’s decent, he’s honest, he’s in this for the right reasons.”

O’Rourke has been lagging in national polls over the last few months.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey released on Thursday found that just 2 percent of likely primary voters would support O’Rourke. The Texas congressman was among a handful of Democratic candidates in the crowded primary field to receive support from more than 1 percent of voters in the survey.

Biden and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenNew CDC overdose estimates are nothing to celebrate 2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally Democratic Houston councilwoman announces Senate bid MORE (D-Mass.), meanwhile, topped the poll by a sizable margin.

According to the poll, 26 percent of likely primary voters support Biden, compared to 19 percent who support Warren. Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi Harris2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally Biden's health care gaffe shows he's not ready for prime time The Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP MORE (D-Calif.) and Bernie SandersBernie Sanders2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally Cardi B posts message of support for Ilhan Omar #IStandWithIlhan trends after crowd at Trump rally chants 'send her back' MORE (I-Vt.) tied for third place at 13 percent. 

—Tess Bonn