Moms will cheer for their kids when no one else will. Melissa O’Rourke, Beto’s mom, stepped up to the plate and provided The Dallas Morning News with an interview that was published online Sunday. Most importantly, she reassured the readers that her son is up to the task of competing on the debate stage with all of the other candidates.
See, Beto is thisclose to landing a damaging blow to his competitors in the second Democrat debate. This week may provide a break-out moment and Melissa is offering some gentle advice – “get to the point quicker,” “be more concise” on his answers. He should button up his coat.” It’s mom stuff. I can hear her say it. In our home, you’d hear me tell my grown son to enunciate his words. No one likes to hear mumbling.
But this is a big-time debate that serves as a job interview for the highest political office in the land. At this point, Beto has failed to prove he is up to the challenge. He isn’t known as a good debater, which proved true when he went up against Ted Cruz in the U.S. Senate race last year, but Melissa doesn’t think Beto should be written off. She is expecting him to “kick some ass” on that debate stage this time around. O’Rourke is just one breakout moment away from moving up in the polls again.
Now that he’s faced some early struggles in the campaign head on, Melissa think her son is more relaxed and free spirited. In short, he’s more prepared to “kick some ass” in the debate.
“He doesn’t cave in. He’s a quick learner,” said Melissa, who plans to be in Detroit on Tuesday to watch the first of the two second-round Democratic battles. “He knows there are some things he can improve on from the first and he’s been working on that. He’s going to really shine.”
Close friends predict the former congressman is one breakout moment away from recapturing the kind of magic that vaulted him onto the national scene in his improbable senate campaign against Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz. He broke fundraising records and helped turn Texas into a battleground state for that race, generating huge voter enthusiasm.
Color me skeptical. To date, Beto O’Rourke has proven to be a Texas-sized flash in the pan. He entered the presidential race with the wind at his back, support from the likes of Oprah and loads of enthusiastic Texas Democrats. The problem originally for Beto was that he continued to run a flying-by-the-seat-of-his-pants style of campaign. He thinks it makes him look like just a regular guy running for office. Beto’s never been just a regular guy, though, as he comes from a privileged background and then married into a more priviledged family. He just falls up, he doesn’t really earn a lot of personal credit for accomplishments.
In his political life, Beto was a far-left member of the El Paso City Council. He advocated for the legalization of all drugs, for example, not just marijuana. During his brief time in the House of Representatives, he left office with no legislation to tout as his own. He was a back-bencher, best known for his road trip with Texas GOP Rep. Will Hurd from San Antonio. The two men filmed the road trip from Texas to Washington, D.C. to prove that members of Congress from opposing parties can develop friendships, at least for as long as it takes to drive to D.C., and the video went viral.
The main problem for Beto, as I see it, is that he has no real political core. He has a lot of general ideas but mostly just seems to follow the pack and move as far left as possible to keep up with the other candidates. And he is more interested in performing for an audience than asking for votes. That counter-jumping got old quickly. I’m still waiting for his wild gesturing as he speaks to take out someone standing too close.
Melissa O’Rourke agrees with the rest of America – Beto live-streams his life too much. No one wants to see him getting his teeth cleaned. TMI, Beto.
“Maybe he shouldn’t be so open about everything. Like, the biggest mistake to me was when I heard he was at the dentist’s office,” she said. “All he wanted to talk about was the hygienist and her story, but that obviously didn’t come through.”
Beto will be in the first debate this week. Tuesday night will be the Elizabeth Warren – Bernie Sanders show so Beto has his work cut out for him. It’s fairly impossible to out-leftist those two in policy positions. He’ll also be competing with my favorite Democrat candidate, Marianne Williamson, so he can’t even count on trying to score points for entertainment value. None of the Democrats are more entertaining than Marianne. He does have the advantage of not being on the same stage as fellow Texan Julian Castro. Castro, also at the bottom of the heap, ate Beto’s lunch in the last debate. He punched Beto and Beto’s surprise registered loud and clear. He just wasn’t prepared. I fully expect Castro to try to land a punch at Joe Biden this time around.
No other Democrat candidate has re-started the presidential primary campaign more than Beto. I think he is at Beto 4.0 by now. He is being advised to be clear in messaging and to present a clear reason on why he is running for the nomination. At this point in the race, these basics should be clear but in Beto’s case, it is not. There is no one single issue to point to as Beto’s reason for running.
Eric Cedillo, a Dallas lawyer who has worked with both Texans, says he expects O’Rourke to rebound and Castro to have another good performance.
“Both of them have a tough row to hoe,” Cedillo said. “O’Rourke will be able to show a moderate appeal. He won’t get attacked by Castro this time.”Analysts say Castro and O’Rourke, particularly the latter, must command the stage and somehow connect with Democrats watching on television or catching up through the later news coverage.
Can Beto convince voters to give him a second look? That’s what I’ll be looking for Tuesday night. Well, that and listening for some pearls of New Age wisdom from Ms. Williamson. As a side note – the interview with Mrs. O’Rourke describes her as someone who “tilts Republican” though now she is an Independent.