As you may recall, unsuccessful Texas Senate candidate Robert Frances “Beto” O’Rourke launched his presidential campaign in March of this year. He quickly climbed in the polls as the flavor of the week, but his numbers began tanking as he set off on a voyage of self-discovery across the nation or something. That led to a “relaunch” of the campaign a few months later. And then there was a re-relaunch this summer.
Sadly for Beto, he’s still rattling around near the bottom of the tank in terms of support. And you know what that means. Yep. He’s re-re-relaunching the campaign, albeit in a bit more unofficial fashion. So I suppose we can look forward to some big changes. (Associated Press)
Looking to recapture the early enthusiasm surrounding his candidacy, O’Rourke is pursuing the go-anywhere, freewheeling style that made him a Democratic star last year while nearly upsetting Sen. Ted Cruz.
After a mass shooting last month in his hometown of El Paso, O’Rourke has again remade his White House bid, this time around decrying what he calls President Donald Trump’s racism and sympathy for white supremacy, as well as combating gun violence. He’s still visiting Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, which kick off the presidential contest. But he’s also turned up at places like an Arkansas gun show, where he debated banning assault weapons with self-described conservatives.
I’m not sure how much of a change this really is. A “go-anywhere, freewheeling” campaign sounds exciting, but he’s mostly visiting Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. In other words, he’s doing what the rest of the candidates are. Yes, he’s sandwiched in some stops in places like Arkansas and Mississippi, but all of his opponents show up in a few oddball places just to mix things up.
As the AP report goes on to remind us, there is one element of his style where he’s switched things up. He’s gone back to swearing on camera. I don’t know what that buys him in terms of support, but I suppose he thinks it makes him sound more folksy and genuine. Or maybe he’s just trying for the sailors’ vote.
Whichever direction he decides to go, he’s going to need to come up with some sort of plan quickly. He scored a whopping one percent in the national Economist/YouGov poll that dropped yesterday. His RCP average is sitting at 2.8%, which has been good enough to get him into the debates, but he’s also trailing Andrew Yang so take that for what it’s worth.
How many more tricks can Beto have left in his bag at this point? He’s not pitching any radically different policies than most of the rest of the field, so announcing some new plan to fix the country’s problems isn’t likely to help him break back into the front tier. Is he desperate enough to really start throwing some haymakers at the debate tonight? He can go after Biden from the left for being too moderate, I suppose. Or even too old and infirm, though that carries some risks. But what will he attack Warren and Sanders on? He could talk about how their plans will bankrupt the nation, but so will his.
We started with Beto and Beto 2.0. If my math is anywhere near accurate, I think we’re up to Beto 4.0 now. And there probably isn’t going to be time for a fifth edition.