Just weeks after emphatically declaring on 60 Minutes that he would not challenge President Donald Trump for the White House, Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke (D-TX) on Monday left the door wide open for a potential 2020 presidential bid.
At a Monday town hall event, O’Rourke, when asked about his potential 2020 ambitions, reportedly said that he and his wife, Amy, “made a decision not to rule anything out” after losing his Senate race, which was “100 percent” of their focus at the time.
“Amy and I will think about what we can do next to contribute to the best of our ability to this community,” O’Rourke reportedly said, according to the Texas Tribune.
O’Rourke shattered fundraising records and came within 2.7 percentage points of knocking off Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who ran a rather lackluster re-election campaign, in the Texas Senate race by expanding the electorate in the I-35 corridor that has been referred to as the so-called blue spine in the middle of Texas.
Privileged white liberal activists and Hollywood elites who supported O’Rourke’s Senate campaign have been urging O’Rourke to challenge Trump even before the Senate race was over.
But when he appeared on 60 Minutes in the first week of November, O’Rourke said he would not run for president regardless of the outcome of his Senate race.
“I don’t wanna do it. I will not do it. Amy and I are raisin’ an 11-year-old, a 10-year-old, and a 7-year-old. And we spent the better part of the last two years not with each other, missing birthdays and anniversaries and time together. And we– we– our– our family could not survive more of that. We, we need to be together,” O’Rourke said at the time.
The media gushed over O’Rourke’s supposed “authenticity” and “realness” because he skateboarded at a Whataburger parking lot, randomly cursed, ate his mother’s homemade cookies on drives with his campaign staff, air-drummed to The Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” and got Whataburger’s spicy ketchup on his new suit while documenting his campaign across all of Texas’s counties on Facebook and Instagram live. But his immediate flip-flop on 2020 makes him seem just like another typical politician.
“The best advice I received from people who’ve run for and won and run for and lost elections like this, is don’t make any decisions about anything until you’ve had some time to hang with your family and just be human,” he reportedly said on Monday. “And so I am following that advice.”
Here’s the relevant portion of O’Rourke’s 60 Minutes interview about his 2020 ambitions or supposed lack thereof:
JON WERTHEIM: We’ve heard a lotta people speculate that you and Sen. Cruz may face each other again, not in a Senate rematch but running for a higher office. What are your thoughts on– on running for president?
BETO O’ROURKE: I don’t wanna do it. I will not do it. Amy and I are raisin’ an 11-year-old, a 10-year-old and a 7-year-old. And we spent the better part of the last two years not with each other, missing birthdays and anniversaries and time together. And we– we– our– our family could not survive more of that. We, we need to be together.
JON WERTHEIM: Is that reversible? You’re saying you’ll, you’ll never run for president?
BETO O’ROURKE: I’m saying that if elected to the Senate, I’ll serve every day of that six-year term, that I’m not lookin’ at 2020. And, and, in fact, am completely ruling that out, not going to do that.
JON WERTHEIM: No matter what? Win or lose you’re not gonna run–
BETO O’ROURKE: Win or lose–
JON WERTHEIM: –in 2020?
BETO” O’ROURKE: Win or lose, I’m not– I’m not running in, in 2020. I gotta tell you, it’s incredibly flattering that anyone would ask me the question or that that’s even up for discussion. But, but since people have asked, the answer’s no.
JON WERTHEIM: You didn’t sidestep that.
BETO O’ROURKE: No.