Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke announced the abrupt end to his 2020 presidential campaign to become the Democratic nominee Friday, Nov. 1.
The decision was announced via Twitter following financial campaign woes that left the El Paso candidate behind the thresholds required by the Democratic National Committee to qualify for the next debate on Nov. 20.
“My service to the country will not be as a candidate or as a nominee,” O’Rourke’s statement read. “Though today we are suspending this campaign, let us each continue our commitment to the country in whatever capacity we can.”
Other presidential candidates quickly responded to the news as U.S. President Donald J. Trump mocked O’Rourke.
“Oh no, Beto just dropped out of race for President despite him saying he was ‘born for this.’ I don’t think so!” Trump wrote on his personal Twitter account.
Oh no, Beto just dropped out of race for President despite him saying he was “born for this.” I don’t think so!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2019
“Thank you, (Beto O’Rourke), for running the race you did and for always speaking from the heart,” Kamala Harris wrote on Twitter. “Your passion for your community and conviction to create a future free from gun violence have enriched this campaign and shown us the leader you are.”
Thank you, @BetoORourke, for running the race you did and for always speaking from the heart. Your passion for your community and conviction to create a future free from gun violence have enriched this campaign and shown us the leader you are. pic.twitter.com/HdQ81WYs1S
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) November 1, 2019
“Beto has inspired millions of Americans all over our country, and rallied Texans and El Pasoans after the tragedy that struck his hometown,” Julián Castro tweeted. “I am thankful for his voice and his continued leadership, and I look forward to working together in whatever he chooses to do next.”
Beto has inspired millions of Americans all over our country, and rallied Texans and El Pasoans after the tragedy that struck his hometown.
I am thankful for his voice and his continued leadership, and I look forward to working together in whatever he chooses to do next. https://t.co/Csz4xqTKYF
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) November 1, 2019
O’Rourke served as a U.S. Representative for El Paso before giving up his seat to run for the U.S. Senate against incumbent senior GOP Senator Ted Cruz.
His grassroots campaign went viral via his innovative Facebook LIVE videos, garnering national attention including regular attacks directly from the president himself. O’Rourke attracted impressive crowds during his visits to all 254 Texas counties. Cruz defeated his challenger in the closest Senate race in Texas history since 1978.
Though conceding the loss, O’Rourke was able to turn several Texas urban counties blue, which have been republican strongholds for decades. The close margin would give hope for Democrats statewide. Before he could make it to the stage at Southwest University Stadium to concede the win and thank his supporters, cries for a presidential run began to pour in.
O’Rourke had emerged lending a voice directly from the international border and ground zero of Trump’s immigration fight. As a native El Pasoan, O’Rourke often crossed into Ciudad Juárez with the media in tow, to speak directly to migrants held in the bordering city.
He brought senators, including U.S. Representative Joe Kennedy, eldest grandson to the late Senator Bobby Kennedy, to protest the child detention camps in Tornillo. The attention garnered was instrumental in closing the facility down, though more remain in other parts of the state.
After the horrific mass shooting at the Cielo Vista Walmart early August, in what became the deadliest massacre of Latinos in U.S. history, O’Rourke took the hard line in calling for the government to obtain every AR-15 and AK-47 off U.S. streets.
“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” he said on the debate stage in September. “We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”
What lies ahead now for the young, unapologetic, political star from the border is unclear.
The statement noted O’Rourke would not be endorsing any other Democratic candidate but would work to ensure the chosen nominee for the party to bebe successful in defeating Trump in 2020.
“I decided to run for president because I believed I could help bring a divided country together in common cause to confront the greatest challenges we’ve ever faced … the most fundamental of them is fear,” O’Rourke added. “I knew, and I still know, that we can reject and overcome these fears and choose to instead be defined by our ambitions and our ability to achieve them.”
To read O’Rourke’s full statement, click here.
Rebecca Reza may be reached at [email protected]