Beto O'Rourke Covers 'Vanity Fair,' Announces Presidential Bid

The former congressman gained a national following with his unsuccessful run for Senate previous year against Republican Ted Cruz.

"This moment of peril produces, perhaps, the greatest moment of promise for this country", he said in an online video.

Greeted by cheers at his first stop in Keokuk, Iowa, he told his audience, "It is a huge, huge honor to be here with you".

The nominating process will test whether O'Rourke can translate that kind of support and star power to a different kind of campaign, one in which he'll be competing against other popular Democrats, not an opponent like Republican Sen.

In running for president, O'Rourke is hoping to leverage the fame he gained with his Senate race in Texas. O'Rourke raised more than $80 million in his bid to oust Cruz.

His entrance into the race is the culmination of his two-year, out-of-nowhere rise from a back-bench congressman largely unknown outside El Paso to Democratic stardom as a record-breaking fundraiser, the subject of an HBO documentary and the target of two separate efforts to draft him into the presidential campaign.

His statement continued: "Beto O'Rourke failed to get anything done in Congress, and with extreme policies like government-run health care and tearing down border barriers, his 2020 bid won't be successful either".

Beto O'Rourke is running for President in 2020
O'Rourke confirms to El Paso TV station that he'll run for president

While challenging Cruz, O'Rourke insisted that he had no interest in running for president, vowing to quietly return to El Paso should he lose. O'Rourke accused Trump of stoking "false fear" about immigrants. Before that bid, O'Rourke had served on the El Paso City Council for six years and had founded his own technology company.

Several polls of hypothetical head-to-head races between the president and some of the top Democratic candidates show Trump losing to each one. "No PACs." - a position he took during his Senate run. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Corey Booker and Bernie Sanders, among others.

He had already planned to visit the University of Northern Iowa on Saturday to campaign for a Democrat running in a special state Senate election, AP reported.

O'Rourke had mulled a presidential run for months and took an unusual break for what appeared to be some soul-searching after his loss, taking a road trip to New Mexico, Kansas and elsewhere. "Yet Mr. O'Rourke also comes to the 2020 race with few notable legislative accomplishments after three terms in the House representing El Paso...."

Should he dive in on Thursday, he will be entering a crowded pool of Democrats seeking to oust Republican President Donald Trump. Some in the party believe an establishment figure who can appeal to centrist voters is the way to victory.

Trump did comment on O'Rourke briefly Thursday morning alongside the Irish prime minister in the Oval Office, saying "Beto" has "a lot of hand movement".

  • Rogelio Becker