March 19, 2019

Beto Announces 2020 Run

“Beto O’Rourke raised more than $6.1 million within 24 hours of announcing his candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, his campaign said on Monday.” Reuters

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From the Left

The left is critical of Beto’s lack of a clear policy agenda.

“As impressive as Beto’s show of fundraising force was, it doesn’t change the assessment that he brings nothing of gravity to a deep, diverse, and experienced Democratic field… he is a man without a clear political ideology, a signature legislative achievement, a major policy issue, or a concrete agenda for the country. All the fundraising in the world won’t change the substance of Beto’s campaign; it simply confirms that a sizable slice of the Democratic Party likes the style of it.”
Josh Voorhees, Slate

“O’Rourke’s topline diagnosis — the ‘interconnected crises in our economy, our democracy, and our climate’ — hints at the view that our political economy needs a major, multi-front overhaul. But in a way, it also demonstrates that no particular major challenge preoccupies him. There’s plenty of time for O’Rourke to fill in these details. But for now, he lacks a big policy idea around which to build his candidacy.”
Greg Sargent, Washington Post

One reporter notes, “The first time I noticed Beto O’Rourke as a member of Congress was during a… 2013 hearing of the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security…  [O’Rourke] channeled wonky frustration with existing metrics of border security, hammered home that the border was as secure as it had ever been (in concert with Kevin McAleenan, now Trump’s head of Customs and Border Protection), aired complaints about processing times into El Paso from Ciudad Juarez, and called for comprehensive immigration reform…

It was an impressive performance, balancing constituent services, oversight, and the bully pulpit… The question is whether [his immigration chops] will be a sufficient way for O’Rourke to distinguish himself from the other candidates, some of whom are also plenty comfortable talking about immigration.”
Dara Lind, Vox

Regarding media coverage, “expectations management is a key survival skill for a modern presidential candidate — one that could come in handy later on when the media is trying to interpret, for example, whether a second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses was a good finish for O’Rourke or a bad one… O’Rourke is going to get a lot of media coverage — and he’s one of those candidates who... simultaneously seems to be overrated and underrated by the press and never quite at equilibrium.”
Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight

Some note that “you can compare O’Rourke with his fellow female Generation X contender Kirsten Gillibrand… to see how [sexism] plays out in our lives and our civic life. Gillibrand, who moved from conservative positions to more liberal ones over the years, is branded as an opportunist…

“[By contrast] O’Rourke, who spoke out against the Affordable Care Act before he voted to defend it, and enjoyed significant financial support from Republicans when he ran for Congress in 2012, is allowed to present himself as a progressive champion. Few seem to recall that O’Rourke declined to endorse Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones when she ran for election last year… His action quite possibly cost Jones the election — she lost by fewer than 1,000 votes. But instead of getting branded as a disloyal political shape-shifter, O’Rourke is touted by many as a charming unifier.”
Helaine Olen, Washington Post

From the Right

The right believes Beto is a formidable candidate in the Democratic primary, and sees similarities to Obama.

The right believes Beto is a formidable candidate in the Democratic primary, and sees similarities to Obama.

“He is young. He is relatively inexperienced in national politics. He comes from the middle of the country, and he has a charisma reminiscent of both Clinton and Obama… One knock on Beto is that he doesn’t use polls and analytics effectively. Okay, he just feels it. But guess what, folks: Donald Trump just felt it, too. And none of Robby Mook’s algorithms meant to lock down Hillary Clinton’s victory got the job done. The narrative beat the numbers.”
David Marcus, The Federalist

“In many ways, O’Rourke is reminiscent of Barack Obama in 2008, a relatively blank slate with rock star popularity. To capitalize on that popularity, however, Beto must get his campaign organized and show backers that he has the depth to mount a serious national campaign… At this point, the greatest threat to Beto is a Joe Biden candidacy… [but] without Biden in the race, the non-Bernie vote will splinter between the numerous other candidates and O’Rourke has a chance to come out on top.”
David Thornton, The Resurgent

Some, however, point out that “as much as Obama ran on inspirational slogans and his own biography in his first campaign, he also presented Democratic voters with a substantive alternative to Clinton. Virtually alone among the 2008 candidates, Obama could honestly say that he had opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, and that both set him apart from his main competitors and helped to neutralize criticism of his lack of experience. O’Rourke doesn’t have a signature issue in the same way that Obama did, and he doesn’t have anything else he can point to in his record that the many other more experienced candidates lack.”
Daniel Larison, The American Conservative

“For a progressive who sees the Obama years mostly as a case of promise squandered, with O governing from the center-left and using his personal charisma to keep left-wing critics at bay, this must be like watching a shoddy remake of a movie you didn’t much like to begin with. Beto lacks Obama’s compelling racial narrative… and his policy views are deliberately less well-defined. All he has, really, is the hopenchange shtick down — and that was still good enough to top even Bernie Sanders in fundraising.”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

Regarding media coverage, many are critical of Reuters for waiting until now to publish revelations that Beto was a member of a criminal hacking group and wrote stories glorifying violence as a teenager. “The journalist defended his actions, saying that he couldn't have gotten confirmation from O'Rourke without pledging to hold back what he knew until the election was over… [but] wrote in his own story that he had ‘more than a dozen’ named sources for his book. Are we to believe that there was no way on earth he could have gotten this story without this quid pro quo? It's possible, but many will have their doubts…

“If the subject of the story had been a Republican, would Reuters have decided that willfully withholding major information about a candidate's past was an acceptable journalistic decision -- or would they have pulled out all the stops to get pertinent facts to voters? I don't have to tell you how most media-suspicious conservatives would answer that question.”
Guy Benson, Townhall

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