Failed Senate Candidate Enters 2020 Presidential Race

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March 14, 2019

Failed Senate candidate and former Texas congressman Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke announced Thursday he will seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.

O'Rourke will hold a campaign launch rally in El Paso on March 30, CNN reports.

"This is a defining moment of truth for this country and for every single one of us," O'Rourke said in a video announcing his candidacy. "The challenges that we face right now, the interconnected crises in our economy, our democracy and our climate have never been greater."

"They will either consume us, or they will afford us the greatest opportunity to unleash the genius of the United States of America," O'Rourke continued.

O'Rourke lost to Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) in Texas's 2018 Senate race, despite raising $80 million.

The Texas Democrat ran into controversy during the campaign over a past DUI during the campaign. In 1998, he crashed his car and was arrested for driving while intoxicated. He had previously acknowledged the DUI, but an uncovered police report revealed a witness statement that claimed O'Rourke sought to leave the scene of the crash.

After losing to Cruz, O'Rourke went on a long road trip to clear his head. He wrote that he was "in and out of a funk" and hoped the trip would help him "break out of the loops" he as "stuck in."

O'Rourke also posted a video of himself receiving a dental cleaning in order to highlight his hygienist's upbringing on the U.S.-Mexico border.

During an interview with the Washington Post in January, O'Rourke questioned whether the United States can "still be managed by the same principles that were set down 230-plus years ago" in the Constitution. He also said he did not know what to do about illegal immigrants who overstayed their visas.

O'Rourke called for "a debate, a discussion, a national conversation" about the planned troop pullout from Syria, although he offered no specifics about what to do in Syria.

He also drew attention in January for a video of him performing in a skin-tight sheep's costume. O’Rourke was a bass guitarist in a punk rock cover band named The Sheep in the early 2000s.

Among 2020 Democrats, O'Rourke currently sits in sixth place in the RealClearPolitics polling average. He trails with 5.3 percent behind former vice president Joe Biden–who has not yet entered the race–Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), and Sen. Cory Booker (D., NJ).