Beto O’Rourke Getting Serious About 2020 Presidential Run, Holds Private Meeting With Obama

Supporters hope that the Texas Democrat will enter the race.

Beto O'Rourke poses with supporters at a political rally.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Supporters hope that the Texas Democrat will enter the race.

Beto O’Rourke may have lost his Senate race, but Barack Obama could actually see bigger things ahead for the Democrat from Texas.

After losing by less than two points to Ted Cruz in a race experts once thought would be a blowout in favor of the Republican, many supporters are now calling on O’Rourke to mount a run for president in 2020. As the Washington Post noted, O’Rourke may also have the support of Barack Obama.

“The meeting, which was held on Nov. 16 at the former president’s offices in Foggy Bottom, came as former Obama aides have encouraged the Democratic House member to run, seeing him as capable of the same kind of inspirational campaign that caught fire in the 2008 presidential election,” the report noted.

Obama had already shared some praise for O’Rourke, saying last week that he sees a bit of himself in the soon-to-be-former El Paso congressman. As Newsweek noted, Obama made it clear that he sees big potential in O’Rourke, calling him “impressive young man who ran a terrific race in Texas.”

“The reason I was able to make a connection with a sizable portion of the country was because people had a sense that I said what I meant,” Obama told his former campaign manager, David Axelrod, on his podcast The Axe Files.

“What I oftentimes am looking for first and foremost is, do you seem to mean it?”

Obama said he sees that kind of sincerity from O’Rourke, who doesn’t make statements because they have been poll-tested to work with voters, but instead because they come from his heart.

Others supporters believe that O’Rourke’s appeal in deep-red Texas could be a valuable asset in 2020 when Democrats look to win back a number of states that Trump turned blue in 2016. While Texas may still be a long shot, O’Rourke’s appeal could help Democrats be more competitive in other southwestern states like Arizona and southern swing states like Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina.

There are some other potentially good signs for Beto O’Rourke if he does choose to run. Though he has been on the national stage for only a short period of time compared to other potential Democratic candidates in 2020, O’Rourke has already made a mark on the polls. As the Hill noted, a new Harvard CAPS/Harris poll found that O’Rourke was already among the top candidates, ranking third behind Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders and already ahead of others like Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren.