It would take a heart of stone not to laugh at a guy polling at one percent presuming to deliver a “major address to the nation.” Try a major address to your living room first, buddy, see how it plays. Work your way up to high-school auditoriums.
— Elizabeth Landers (@ElizLanders) August 14, 2019
This will be his third (re)launch since he entered the race less than six months ago, notes David Rutz. There was the initial announcement with the splashy “Vanity Fair” cover this past spring. There was the humbled reset in May, when he started doing more TV after his man-of-the-people townhall tour in middle America didn’t catch fire. Now there’s Beto 3.0, the moral crusader, aflame with righteous outrage after the El Paso massacre. This (re)launch at least features something that the previous two lacked — a purpose for his otherwise aimless campaign.
O’Rourke will recommit to holding President Trump accountable for the state of the country — and focus on the stakes of removing a president from office whom he has explicitly linked to the deaths of fellow El Pasoans, according to a senior campaign official.
He’ll focus heavily on three key issues: racism, white supremacy and guns — and plans to propose what the campaign calls “new, bold solutions.”…
Back in El Paso since last Saturday’s shooting, the speech will mark O’Rourke’s return to the presidential campaign trail — but don’t expect him to race immediately back to early states, the campaign official said. O’Rourke will lay out a plan to take him to more places typically written off by presidential candidates, and less to “traditional” events — “reflecting the gravity of the situation we’re in, even if that means doing things differently,” the official said.
Not sure what that means but I wonder if he’s planning to campaign at the sites of recent mass shootings — not just El Paso and Dayton but Vegas, Pittsburgh, and so on. That’d be a clever gimmick inasmuch as the media and Democratic voters believe this is their moment to finally push across some new gun control regulations in Congress. They’ll be inclined to trumpet O’Rourke’s events if only to highlight the underlying cause, and of course Beto will be credited for his “selfless” approach and seriousness of purpose in focusing on a moral cause instead of gladhanding Iowans while eating corn dogs at the state fair or whatever. It’s not a bad idea for a longshot candidate. He’s going to get lost in the crowd of Biden, Warren, Sanders, and Harris if he hunkers down in the early states. He might as well go do his own thing and hope the media falls in love with him again, this time as the “conscience of his party.” The fight against the forces of darkness can only be won by [checks notes] nominating Beto O’Rourke for president.
I’m guessing his speech will sound a lot like this op-ed he published yesterday on CNN’s website. Title: “It’s America’s moment of truth.”
When President Donald Trump describes Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “bringing crime,” or refers to undocumented immigrants as individuals who “infest our country” — he speaks not as America’s President but as an emissary of hate. And his vilification and fear-mongering connect with those who are open to receiving it.
The seeds of terror we saw that August day are transmitted day and night on Fox News, the most watched cable news channel in the country. They are amplified by right-wing websites like Breitbart, and in messages forced onto local news broadcasts by Sinclair Media…
Every media outlet that covers Trump’s rallies uncritically is serving dangerous ends. This language of fear and intimidation is not, as some would have it, simply political theater; it actually changes our behavior. Counties that hosted a Trump rally in 2016 saw a 226% increase in hate crimes, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. And we’ve seen a rise in these kinds of crimes since Trump’s been a candidate and in office.
I keep thinking that this is all building to Beto using the shooting as a pretext to bail out of the presidential race and run for Senate in Texas instead, as the entire party wants him to do (“El Paso needs me!”), but no, not so says Politico. “The El Paso massacre only redoubled his resolve to campaign against Trump, according to sources close to his campaign,” they claim, noting that Beto has already qualified for the September debate whereas various other no-hopers have not. It’ll be a smaller stage and so he has a better chance of standing out. His plan between now and then, it appears, is to try to build as much buzz as he can as a Man On A Mission on the trail and then convert that into some impassioned moment at the debates that vaults him into the top tier, or at least past Buttigieg. That’s one thing O’Rourke has that Mayor Pete doesn’t, actually — passion. Buttigieg is almost preternaturally calm and methodical, which isn’t an asset for a pol when his base’s blood is up about something. O’Rourke can feed that better than he can. He already has over the past few weeks, in fact.
And if it doesn’t work out for him, hey. He’s 46. Here was my theory on Beto’s strategy from this past weekend, when he went on CNN and all but accused Trump supporters of being racist:
Maybe he’s playing a long game. He knows he won’t be the nominee and he also knows he’s unlikely to win a Senate race against John Cornyn (and that his political career would likely be over after two consecutive Senate losses). So he’s going to use his platform this year to be the “right side of history” voice in the field who savages Trump and Trump’s fans on moral grounds, hoping to make an impression in lefty minds about his moral clarity. Then, five or 10 years from now, when the demographics are more favorable to him in Texas and nationally, he’ll run again. Remember when I was the conscience of our party in speaking out against Trump? he’ll say to Democrats. They’ll remember.
Has the Beto 2024 campaign already begun? If so, what’s he going to do with himself between now and then?