Though it is difficult to accept, it is clear to me now that this campaign does not have the means to move forward successfully. My service to the country will not be as a candidate or as the nominee. Acknowledging this now is in the best interests of those in the campaign; it is in the best interests of this party as we seek to unify around a nominee; and it is in the best interests of the country…
We will work to ensure that the Democratic nominee is successful in defeating Donald Trump in 2020. I can tell you firsthand from having the chance to know the candidates, we will be well served by any one of them, and I’m going to be proud to support whoever that nominee is.
And proud to call them President in January 2021, because they will win.
What happened? His polling never took off, of course, but that’s no obstacle to campaigning like a demon in Iowa and hoping for the best. The obstacle was money. As Harris has also learned, when polls tank, so does fundraising and then hard choices on personnel and self-promotion need to be made. O’Rourke was in deep trouble, notes the Times: “His campaign has been under extreme financial strain, and Mr. O’Rourke’s advisers concluded that proceeding in the race might have meant making deep cuts to his staff in order to pay for advertising and other measures to compete in the early primary and caucus state.” He was unlikely to make the next debate as well. The writing was on the wall.
Within the past few minutes, after the news broke, the president duly administered the coup de grace:
O’Rourke had a weird journey over the past eight months. When he got in, he was hit with a bunch of bad press questioning his progressive bona fides by Berniebros who feared that Betomania might seduce lefties away from Sanders. That fear proved unfounded, as O’Rourke discovered that the national support he enjoyed when he was the knight battling the evil dragon Ted Cruz didn’t carry over when he was battling Sanders, Warren, Biden, and Buttigieg. The mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso handed him a chance to reboot. Suddenly a guy who had been running on Kennedyesque charisma had a purpose. He would lead the crusade to confiscate America’s assault weapons. Having turned the wokeness dial to 10 on that issue, he decided to do the same on ending the tax-exemption for religious institutions that refuse to recognize gay marriage. Beto now had a real political identity: Progressive culture warrior, a guy who couldn’t out-left Bernie and Warren on economics but could certainly try to out-left them on cultural issues by taking a maximalist position on Democratic grievances.
It … did not work:
Beto had 3 respondents in the Times/Siena Iowa poll today, matching John Delaney's tally
— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) November 1, 2019
That’s one legacy of Beto’s campaign. He proved that total purity in culture war is not only insufficient to win the Democratic nomination, it’s insufficient to crack one percent. (He’s not the only candidate to have proved that point, either.) His other legacy is that, unusually for a candidate who flamed out so early in the process, he may have done his party lasting damage. Chris Coons complained after O’Rourke’s call for confiscating guns at the September debate that the clip would be used against Democrats for years to come as evidence of their true intentions in regulating firearms. The same is true of O’Rourke’s interest in punishing churches by taxing them for their sin against wokeness in opposing same-sex unions. His role in the campaign ultimately was to confirm conservatives’ worst suspicions about the liberal id. Maybe uniquely among this year’s field, he did his tribe more harm than good by running.
Democrats are reportedly still leaning on him to consider taking on John Cornyn for Senate, per the Times, but Beto has been adamant in saying he won’t run. Realistically, how could he? Although he’d return to the good graces of progressives soon enough by challenging Cornyn, his cultural rhetoric is likely too extreme even for a state that’s been turning bluer. The guy may have wrecked his political future in a hamfisted attempt to win the presidency by out-woking everyone. Amazing.
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) November 1, 2019