Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign suddenly has a purpose

In recent weeks, he has broken through the Democratic primary’s noise with expressions of raw, visceral, and expletive-laden anger over issues like gun violence and racism. And he has taken a stance that no other major Democratic presidential candidate has touched: calling for mandatory assault weapon buybacks.

After months of campaigning without a clear, cohesive narrative or signature issues for voters to latch onto, with sometimes wobbly answers on why he is different from the 20-some other Democrats running for president, O’Rourke has a message and an explanation for why he is the person to deliver it: what’s happening now in America is fucked up, and he has seen up close both how much that hurts and how to fix it…

But another thing was different from O’Rourke’s early presidential campaign. In both Blacksburg and in Charlottesville, O’Rourke had to take questions about why he wasn’t abandoning his presidential bid to run for a Senate seat in Texas.

It was a question no one asked him during his first trip to Iowa, in March, immediately after he began his campaign for president. But it has dogged him, to his aides’ frustration, since the El Paso shooting.