Former congressman Beto O’Rourke speaks to the crowd during the “March for Truth” in El Paso on Monday.
(Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images) Jennifer Rubin Opinion writer covering politics and policy, foreign and domestic Beto O’Rourke held a raucous, uplifting rally in El Paso on Monday, reminding his admirers why they were drawn to his message in a razor-close, but ultimately losing Senate race.
Now the question is: Can he recapture the energy and excitement he generated during his Senate race after other presidential candidates — who may be just as inspirational — have made a splash and begun their campaigns?
He had been slammed by national presidential media for his frivolous car trek, his absence from the tough fights of the day, his lack of response to serious policy questions and his nonchalant attitude toward politics.
O’Rourke gave his fans a sneak preview of his political return during a sit-down with Oprah Winfrey last week, but was noncommittal on a presidential run.
His staccato delivery seemed to energize the crowd: He spoke both in English and Spanish, emphasizing the city’s sense of solidarity and community: No question that he spoke with excitement and optimism, but should he decide to enter the presidential race, it’s not clear that will be enough.
O’Rourke capably describes the chance to recover our deepest-held values and restore the goodness of our country, but Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
O’Rourke praises the spirit of ordinary Americans, but then Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who seems poised to jump into the race, also connects with diverse crowds using the “dignity of work” theme.
O’Rourke can pull thousands together on short notice, but he has to date been resistant to “scaling up” his operation and creating a campaign organization that can compete in multiple states.
Should he run for president, O’Rourke would need to show what makes an ex-congressman and defeated Senate candidate uniquely situated to oust Trump, unite a deeply divided country and then govern it.
Read more: Jennifer Rubin: Irrelevant and incoherent Trump is upstaged in El Paso Jennifer Rubin: Beto O’Rourke needs to get off the road Jennifer Rubin: Is this the beginning for Beto?
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