Texas’ Beto O’Rourke has joined the 2020 battle for the White House, working to build on his narrowly lost Senate campaign – the closet U.S. Senate race in Texas since 1978 – which made him a Democratic superstar.
Of course, O’Rourke has a lot of work to do to set himself apart from the already-crowded Democratic field, which already has 14 candidates vying for the top office. As CNN notes, currently he is approaching the presidency similar to his Senate bid, calling on people to move past partisan politics – an appeal which has led to him being compared to former President Barack Obama.
“This is going to be 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 said in a campaign announcement video.
“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 added. “We are truly now, more than ever, the last great hope of Earth.”
However, as CNN reports, he has yet to clearly define himself or share what he actually believes. So it is not clear where he will fall ideologically among an array of candidates who range from very progressive to more centrist.
I am running to serve you as the next president. The challenges we face are the greatest in living memory. No one person can meet them on their own. Only this country can do that, and only if we build a movement that includes all of us. Say you're in: https://t.co/EKLdkVET2u pic.twitter.com/lainXyvG2n
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) March 14, 2019
O’Rourke has shied away from partisan labels in the past, even when asked directly about his political views, as Politico noted.
When asked if he identifies as a progressive Democrat, O’Rourke said “I don’t know. I’m just, as you may have seen and heard over the course of the campaign, I’m not big on labels. I don’t get all fired up about party or classifying or defining people based on a label or a group. I’m for everyone.”
That being said, some have criticized him due to his membership in the centrist New Democrat Coalition, and his moderate voting record as a US congressman.
However, he has vocalized more progressive ideas on issues like criminal justice and the legalization of marijuana. During the Senate race he supported “Medicare for all.”
These positions were one thing when he was running for Senate against Ted Cruz, but again, as he enters a widely diverse Democratic race for the nomination, it is unclear whether he will hold up to the scrutiny of a presidential run, especially with more progressive contenders, like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) whom early polls have shown to be on top of the Democratic race.