O'Rourke enters 2020 race

Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman whose 2018 Senate bid against Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBarr: 'I haven't looked into' whether Ukraine meddled in 2016 election Houston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence FBI head rejects claims of Ukrainian 2016 interference 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.

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“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 WarrenThe media have fallen out of love with Bernie, but have voters? Buttigieg surrogate on candidate's past consulting work: 'I don't think it matters' Steyer rolls out 5B plan to invest in historically black colleges MORE (Mass.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe media have fallen out of love with Bernie, but have voters? Krystal Ball: Media turns on Buttigieg, will this end him? Senate Democrats demand Trump fire Stephen Miller MORE (Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSanders urges impeachment trial 'quickly' in the Senate Steyer rolls out 5B plan to invest in historically black colleges The great AI debate: What candidates are (finally) saying about artificial intelligence 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 TrumpSanders urges impeachment trial 'quickly' in the Senate US sending 20,000 troops to Europe for largest exercises since Cold War Barr criticizes FBI, says it's possible agents acted in 'bad faith' in Trump probe 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.