O'Rourke campaign says path to victory hinges on top 5 finishes in Iowa, Nevada

O'Rourke campaign says path to victory hinges on top 5 finishes in Iowa, Nevada
© Getty Images

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D-Texas) presidential campaign said its chances to win the Democratic Party’s 2020 nomination hinges on top 5 finishes in the early caucus states of Iowa and Nevada.

O’Rourke and Campaign Manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said during a livestreamed meeting with staffers that the campaign’s priority remains the first four nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, but that its path includes victories further down the road.


“We’re very, very focused on the early states. We’re playing to win there,” O'Malley Dillon said. “We feel so good about the work there.”

“We’re not going to just focus there, we’re also going to focus on a national strategy that is going to play to our strengths on Super Tuesday,” she added, referencing a day on which 17 states and territories, including O’Rourke’s home state of Texas, will hold their primaries and caucuses.

The campaign clarified in its “path to win” published online that it believes it can place as low as fifth in the Iowa caucuses and third in the Nevada caucuses to “still be competitive.” It did not note where it hopes to place in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

The campaign also said it was launching a program dubbed “The Slingshot” to propel it moving forward, saying it hopes to attract $2 million in donations in the next six weeks to expand advertising and organizing programs. The campaign added it is not a “stunt” but that it “[needs] it quickly.” 

“We have a path to the nomination and through that a path to the presidency,” O’Rourke said, noting the campaign has more work to do to break out its message. “There is no later moment to do it, it must happen now if we’re going to make the most of this moment.”

“I’m confident in our ability to compel our fellow American to see in us a unique opportunity and chance for this country,” he added.

The campaign, which has stagnated in both fundraising and polls compared to several of the 19 primary competitors, repeatedly expressed confidence in its message and pushed back against a narrative that the nominating race has morphed into a contest between a few top-tier candidates.

“Here’s our challenge: we are in an extraordinary field of candidate, really the best that has ever been assembled,” O’Rourke said in a livestreamed meeting with campaign staff. “We would not be in this if we did not feel that we have something different and better to offer this country.”

“The pundits to some degree, the pollsters and folks in the media … in too many instances have defined this race as only between two people. It’s easy, it’s convenient, in some cases, it’s lazy. We’re going to have to break through that,” he added.

O'Malley Dillon adopted a tougher tone, saying the narrative that the race has emerged as a contest between former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCNN's Anderson Cooper mocks WH press secretary over Fox News interview Yang cautions Democrats: Impeachment might not be 'successful' Ocasio-Cortez: Sanders' heart attack was a 'gut check' moment MORE and Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump says his Doral resort will no longer host G-7 after backlash Ocasio-Cortez: Sanders' heart attack was a 'gut check' moment Ocasio-Cortez tweets endorsement of Sanders MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersOcasio-Cortez: Sanders' heart attack was a 'gut check' moment Ocasio-Cortez tweets endorsement of Sanders Ocasio-Cortez throws support to Sanders at Queens rally MORE (I-Vt.) was being pushed by a “media trap.”

“This is an incredibly cluttered race,” she said. “But the conversation again, that conventional wisdom is saying it’s a two-person race … that’s a real impediment. It’s total bullshit.”

It was not clear which two candidates O’Rourke and O'Malley Dillon were referring to.

The unveiling of the campaign’s path to victory comes after it announced it had raised $4.5 million in the third quarter of 2019. The figure was higher than the $3.6 million O’Rourke raised in 2019’s second quarter but well beneath the $9.4 million he hauled in during the year’s first quarter.

O’Rourke’s fundraising haul also trailed those of Biden, Warren and Sanders, as well as several middle-tier candidates such as Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisKamala Harris reacts to supporter who got tattoo of her handwriting Even with likely Trump impeachment, Democrats face uphill climb to win presidency Harris campaign releases web video highlighting opposition to death penalty MORE (D-Calif.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerGabbard hits back at 'queen of warmongers' Clinton The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden camp faces new challenges Former public school teacher: Strikes 'wake-up call' for Democratic Party MORE (D-N.J.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharDeVos calls Democratic presidential hopeful's education plans 'crazy' Senate Democrats want Warren to talk costs on 'Medicare for All' Biden struggles to reverse fall MORE (D-Minn.), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegSenate Democrats want Warren to talk costs on 'Medicare for All' Sanders seeks spark from Ocasio-Cortez at Queens rally Biden seeks to fundraise off fact he's running out of money MORE and entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangYang cautions Democrats: Impeachment might not be 'successful' Yang defends Gabbard: She 'deserves much more respect' Super PAC seeks to spend more than million supporting Yang MORE.