Is Betomania fading? Oprah begs him to declare 2020 candidacy

The question now for failed U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke is this – is he a strong contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination for President or is he going to turn out to be a flash in the pan? Oprah wants him to hurry up and let the people know his intentions.

Beto interrupted his road trip to self-discovery long enough to be interviewed by Oprah in New York City this week. The interview, one in a series titled “Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations from Times Square” is set to air February 16 on her network, OWN. Even though Oprah pushed him to make a decision, O’Rouke continued to play it coy and said he’d make a decision by the end of the month.

“Can I be part of bringing people together in a deeply divided country around things we agree are common—can we have a common conception on what it is to be American?” he asked, in his usual Socratic style. “I think about our politics, the way that we run campaigns, the way that we connect with each other,” O’Rourke continued. “If I can play some role in helping the country to do that, by God I’m going to do it.” Winfrey pressed him on the question many Democrats are waiting for the former congressman to answer: “By God, when are you going to know the answer?”

Oprah, you may remember, was the first big celebrity with a platform to encourage Barack Obama to run for President back in the days of her national talk show. Her record of success since Obama, however, has been a bit spotty. Most recently she campaigned for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and, like Beto, she lost. The Draft Beto movement is underway with mixed results so far. One Draft Beto gathering in California, Kamala Harris territory, last weekend reportedly only garnered a half a dozen people. About a dozen people showed up at a gathering hosted at a Manchester, N.H. brewery on a Friday night.

Some in attendance said they are gunning for positions on O’Rourke’s potential campaign, like Martel, while others are there wholly because they think he is the Democratic Party’s best chance at defeating President Trump in 2020.

“I’m just trying to figure out how I can get involved. It’s such an exciting moment,” Martel said.

Martel was sporting a “Beto 2020” t-shirt while the section of the bar the group was in was adorned with Beto posters and cans of “Beto Beer” — or Bud Light with printouts of O’Rourke’s face taped to them.

Ah, yes. Beto Beer. It can be the 2020 version of Billy Beer. Everything old is new again.

Oprah asked if Beto’s the “real deal” as she opened her interview with him. Sure, he’s a guy who seems to do as he wants and likes to think of himself as a rebel. But, does he have a niche in the 2020 Democratic field that will be filled with so many other contenders?

O’Rourke is joining in on a protest being organized against President Trump’s visit to El Paso Monday. The issue is border security and I’ve written previously here about Beto’s objections to Trump administration policies on illegal aliens breaching the southern border. The tent city he protested in the El Paso area is now empty. Now he’s trying to set the record straight that Trump’s assertions about the success of the border wall built near El Paso are not completely factual. Trump opponents point to the number of crimes reported before the wall and after the wall. Records indicate that crime was already down before the wall was built. The press release for the protest in El Paso cites the location will be “a stone’s throw” from the arena in which the President will speak. For an extra bonus, O’Rourke is set to speak at the same time as the President. C’mon. Who do you think will garner the larger audience and attention? It won’t be O’Rourke.

The O’Rourke rally, according to organizers, will “show the country the reality of the border — a vibrant, safe, binational community that proudly celebrates its culture, history, diversity and status as a city of immigrants.”

“While some try to stoke fear and paranoia, to spread lies and a false narrative about the U.S.-Mexico border and to demand a 2,000 mile wall along it at a time of record safety and security, El Paso will come together for a march and celebration that highlights the truth,” the release from O’Rourke adds, in a paper-thin veiled reference to Trump.

I do think O’Rourke will decide to enter the race. He’s got the ego and the energy. He’s young, at 46 years old, and he’d make a good candidate for vice-president. He’s a strong fundraiser and knows how to work social media, like AOC. He is an unapologetic far left liberal. While I don’t think the Democrats are going to nominate a white man as their candidate unless Joe Biden continues to remain at the top of the heap, O’Rourke could get name recognition and national exposure in a presidential run now. He’s already had the Oprah spotlight filmed. He’s fallen a few notches in recent polls where he once was ranked at the top with Biden. Ramping up public appearances and traveling to early primary states is the typical approach to enter the fray. If he has true presidential aspirations, and I think he does, he needs to jump now while the iron is hot. In four years he’ll be just another guy who missed the opportunity when it knocked.