A Brit's Guide To Why Beto O’Rourke Running For President Might Be A Big Deal

He's very sweaty.
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Beto O’Rourke is running for president.

Never heard of him? That’s OK, he hasn’t really made waves over here in the UK, but he might be about to as he challenges Donald Trump for the presidency in 2020.

O’Rourke is entering a crowded field containing over a dozen Democratic hopefuls – and he will have to cause a major upset in order to beat household names such as Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

And if he does, HuffPost UK has everything you need to know about the sweaty (yes, sweaty) 46-year-old Texan and former congressman.

He lost an election last year

On the face of it this doesn’t sound too promising. Last year O’Rourke was beaten by Republican Senator Ted Cruz in the US midterm elections, failing to win a seat in the US Senate.

But it wasn’t all bad news – he lost by only 2.7 percentage points in a state where Democrats typically lose bids for statewide office by 20 percentage points or more.

And perhaps more importantly, he’s won huge public backing both in terms of social media following and those willing to put their money where his mouth is.

O’Rourke has 1.25 million Twitter followers and out-fundraised Cruz by more than 2 to 1, hauling in a whopping $80 million without the need to turn to PACs, the organisations that fundraise on behalf of candidates.

He used to be a punk-rocker

O’Rourke is/was a big fan of punk and in the early nineties played bass in a band called Foss.

They had limited success and the video below showing one of their TV performances might give a clue as to why – at least they were energetic and gave it their all.

Interestingly, their drummer Cedric Bixler-Zavala would go on to worldwide rock fame as the vocalist for At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta.

He’s not the favourite

Not yet anyway, but it’s still early days.

According to a CAPS/Harris poll reported by The Hill, that honour currently belongs to former Vice President Joe Biden, even though he hasn’t officially announced a run yet.

It’s a crowded field that already includes over a dozen people who have announced their intention to challenge Trump.

Of these, Bernie Sanders is favourite followed by Kamala Harris. O’Rourke is sitting in fourth place at the moment.

He’s sweaty

Not in a “ugh, gross look at that dude I bet he stinks” kinda way, more a “OMG that speech was so wild he looks like he’s showered and forgot to undress” kinda way.

Look – that’s not sweat, it’s liquid enthusiasm. Possibly.

He’s already riled Donald Trump

If there’s one sure sign that O’Rourke is someone to watch out for, it’s the fact Donald Trump has said he isn’t someone to watch out for.

Earlier this month the pair held opposing rallies in El Paso, Texas, where the president was making his case for the border wall.

The first duelling rallies of the 2020 election season were set to serve as a preview of a heated years-long fight over the direction of the country.

O’Rourke accused Trump of stoking “false fear” about immigrants and telling “lies” about his hometown El Paso, which Trump said was a dangerous place before it had a border fence.

He added: “In El Paso, we are secure because we treat one another with dignity and respect. That is the way that we make our communities and our country safe.

“We know that walls do not save lives. Walls end lives.”

Two hundred yards away in El Paso County Coliseum, Trump told his supporters that O’Rourke had “little going for himself, although he’s got a great first name”.

“We are all challenged by a young man who lost an election to (Republican Senator) Ted Cruz,” said Trump.

He said that O’Rourke’s rally was smaller than his, and that was a bad sign: “That may be the end of his presidential bid.”

Reuters could not verify Trump’s claim that 35,000 people attended his rally, with about 10,000 inside. The city’s fire department allowed only the capacity 6,500 inside, the El Paso Times reported.

Police estimated between 10,000 and 15,000 attended the O’Rourke march and rally, the newspaper said.

So what does he actually believe in?

Drugs

O’Rourke has called for the decriminalisation of cannabis in Texas and has co-authored a book titled Dealing Death and Drugs: The Big Business of Dope in the US and Mexico.

In it he argued for an end to the prohibition of the drug.

Guns

In line with the general Democratic stance, O’Rourke supports tighter gun control and participated in a sit-in in the House of Representatives that attempted to force a vote to change legislation.

Environment

Unlike Trump, O’Rourke doesn’t believe global warming is a “hoax” and wants to dramatically increase the use of renewable energy.

Foreign Policy

As noted above, O’Rourke is highly critical of Trump’s immigration policies and border wall and has spoken against “militarising” the border.

He’s also been a vocal critic of Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. After the two held a summit in Helsinki last year during which Trump said he believed Putin’s claims that Russia did not meddle in the 2016 presidential election campaign, O’Rourke said: “If I were asked to vote on this I would vote to impeach the president.”

And finally...

But O’Rourke has faced criticism - Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel scoffed at chances when running off the back of a losing campaign and his lack of fury against Wall Street and big money have alienated him from voters looking for a more radical change in how the USA is run.

PAUL RATJE via Getty Images

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