MSNBC host Chris Matthews on Tuesday said that Texas Democratic Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke has to win his race next week if he wants to run for the White House in two years.
O'Rourke, who has become a progressive darling nationwide as he tries to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), has been discussed as a potential 2020 contender against President Donald Trump. Running as an unabashed liberal in a red state, O'Rourke's national profile has exploded while setting fundraising records. However, polling has shown him consistently trailing Cruz heading into the closing days of the race.
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Matthews did not hide his affection for O'Rourke. The MSNBC host commented on the candidate "heroically" defending the right to take a knee during the national anthem, and he gushed that O'Rourke "should" beat Cruz, whom Matthews loathes.
"It's clear that he wants to win," said Matthews, who is interviewing O'Rourke on Tuesday night for his "Hardball" college tour. "This isn't some moral victory he's after. He wants to win and should. This is like Jack Kennedy early in his career taking on the heavyweight, Henry Cabot Lodge. One way you get your way to the presidency is beat somebody big early on, or on halfway up."
"So he needs to win," Matthews added. "I don't understand people that say you can run for other offices after you lose. I don't get that … There's no such thing. Winning is how you do it in politics. You win at one level, then you go to the next level. That's how it works. Or if you lose at one level, you try again for another statewide office like governor … That's the way it's been inside politics. Now if you're outside of politics like Trump, the rules don't apply."
O'Rourke recently said it was a "definitive no" when asked if he would run for president, pledging to serve a full six-year term if elected.