O'Rourke enters 2020 race

Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman whose 2018 Senate bid against Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGoogle official denies allegations of ties to China The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Cruz in 2016 said 'something fundamentally wrong' with Christians who back Trump: book MORE (R-Texas) lifted his national profile, has jumped into the 2020 presidential race.

"The only way for us to live up to the promise of America is to give it our all and to give it for all of us," he said in a video announcing his candidacy early Thursday.

ADVERTISEMENT
“This is a defining moment of truth for this country and every single one of us,” he added, touching on health care, immigration, criminal justice reform and climate change.

O’Rourke also vowed a “positive campaign” that “seeks to bring out the very best from every single one of us, that seeks to unite a very divided country.”

O'Rourke strongly hinted at a desire to pursue a presidential run in a Vanity Fair profile published Wednesday.

“You can probably tell that I want to run,” he told Vanity Fair. “I do. I think I’d be good at it.”

He is expected to hold multiple campaign events over the next several days in Iowa.

The El Paso Democrat’s entrance into the race adds a rising political star to the increasingly crowded field of Democratic hopefuls. He joins the likes of Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHarris tops Biden in California 2020 poll The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Democrats fret over Trump cash machine MORE (Mass.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris tops Biden in California 2020 poll The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Democrats fret over Trump cash machine MORE (Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Schumer throws support behind bill to study reparations MORE (N.J.), among others, in seeking the party’s 2020 presidential nomination.

O’Rourke garnered star power last year during his high-profile challenge to Cruz. His social media presence and immense fundraising power lifted him from a little-known three-term congressman to a Democratic rockstar with a following that stretched well beyond Texas.

While he ultimately lost to Cruz in November, O’Rourke managed to come within less than 3 points of a win in Texas, a state with a reputation as a Republican stronghold. Voters in the Lone Star State haven’t elected a Democrat to the Senate in roughly three decades.

Unlike other presidential candidates who had mulled White House bids for months or even years before announcing their campaigns, O’Rourke only began being floated as a possible presidential contender after losing his Senate race against Cruz in November.

After weeks of dwindling media attention and questions about whether his political stock had fallen, he turbocharged speculation of a 2020 run when he led a march in El Paso in early February at the same time President TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist MORE held a campaign rally there.

It was a clear indication by O'Rourke that he had no intention of going away after months of waffling on whether to undertake a White House run.

He first fueled speculation of a 2020 campaign when he met privately with former President Obama in November.

But he also did little in the weeks and months that followed to suggest that a presidential run was imminent, often keeping his distance from discussions about campaign planning and organizing.

He told Politico in January that a 2020 decision could “potentially” be months away. But in a subsequent interview with Oprah Winfrey in February, he said that he planned to make a decision by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, supporters rallied around the possibility of a presidential run by O’Rourke, leading to the emergence of several campaigns seeking to draft the former congressman into the 2020 contest.

One of those groups, Draft Beto, set out to raise $1 million for O’Rourke and even sought to put together email lists that could be passed off to the Texas Democrat in the event that he launched a White House campaign.

“It’s telling that the Democrats’ biggest star is someone whose biggest accomplishment is losing," Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens said in a statement early Thursday. "Beto O’Rourke failed to get anything done in Congress, and with extreme policies like government-run health care and tearing down border barriers, his 2020 bid won’t be successful either.”

Updated at 7:03 a.m.