“I wanted to hear him personally, and he delivered,” Holland, a student at the University of Iowa, said after O’Rourke’s speech. “He was down to earth, so humble. I can tell that he cares about each and every one of us.”…

“I tend to agree with some of the stories … but I look at him and he’s the only one that gives me that hope,” said Anne Phillips, a graphic designer who saw O’Rourke interviewed for a podcast in Cedar Rapids. “I want reconciliation, and he brings that to my heart. I sense in him that he can bring us back together.”

“He is able to articulate who he is and what he believes in a way that I have not seen yet by anybody else,” said Scott Johnson, a retired IBM employee in Cedar Rapids who said he had seen seven Democrats on the 2020 campaign trail so far. “I understand now why he got $70 million in Texas — why in a red state he came so close. It’s his personality.”