Failed U.S. Senate candidate Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke met with former President Barack Obama last month as the Texas Democrat considers a bid for the White House in 2020.
The Washington Post reports O’Rourke met November 16 with Obama at the former president’s Washington, D.C., office in the posh neighborhood of Foggy Bottom. Details of what the Democrats discussed during the tête-à-tête are unknown, while press representatives for both camps declined to comment on the report.
O’Rourke said recently he isn’t ruling out a potential 2020 presidential run, walking back earlier pronouncements that he wouldn’t seek the White House regardless of the outcome of his Senate campaign in Texas.
O’Rourke, a three-term congressman who lost to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the 2018 midterm election, was asked during a town hall in his native El Paso about whether he was considering a presidential bid. He described vacationing last week with his family — something he said he couldn’t do for 18-plus months while challenging Cruz.
O’Rourke said he’s focused on “being together as a family” and representing his district until leaving the House on Jan. 3. But after that, he and his wife will “think about what we can do next to contribute to the best of our ability to this community.”
In a recent interview with his former campaign strategist David Axelrod, Obama said that O’Rourke reminded him of himself.
The Washington Times reported:
Mr. Obama was reacting to a report that a top Democratic bundler had said of the Texan that “he’s Barack Obama, but white.”
“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,” Mr. Obama said, telling his former aide that Mr. O’Rourke is one of several potential 2020 Democratic candidates like that.
“We’ve got a number of people who are thinking about the race who I think fall in that same category,” said Mr. Obama, who also described Mr. O’Rourke as an “impressive young man.”
Throughout the course of the midterm election, Obama is said to have offered to boost O’Rourke’s campaign, even suggesting the two campaign together in Texas — an idea that was shot down by the progressive candidate’s staff.
In addition to O’Rourke, Obama has met with a number of possible 2020 candidates, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
O’Rourke shattered fundraising records and became a star in national political circles amid his race with Cruz, which he lost by less than three percentage points. That was close enough in deep-red Texas to spark speculation O’Rourke could try to keep the momentum going with a presidential campaign.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.