The Texas Democrat gained national attention when he ran for Senate against Ted Cruz
It’s official — Beto O’Rourke is running for president.
The Texas Democrat, who lost a high-profile Senate race to Republican incumbent Ted Cruz in November, announced on Thursday morning that he is joining the slew of Democrats vying for the 2020 nomination.
“This is a defining moment of truth for this country and for every single one of us,” O’Rourke, 46, said in a video announcing his candidacy. “The challenges that we face right now, the interconnected crises in our economy, our democracy and our climate have never been greater.”
“They will either consume us, or they will afford us the greatest opportunity to unleash the genius of the United States of America,” he continued, sitting alongside his wife Amy Hoover Sanders.
The announcement came one day after O’Rourke was revealed as the cover star of April’s Vanity Fair, where he hinted at a presidential run.
“I want to be in it,” he told the outlet. “Man, I’m just born to be in it, and want to do everything I humanly can for this country at this moment.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the El Paso, Texas, native sent a text message to local station KTSM, confirming that he would announce his candidacy.
“I’m really proud of what El Paso did and what El Paso represents,” he said. “It’s a big part of why I’m running. This city is the best example of this country at its best.”
O’Rourke had been hinting at a possible presidential run for weeks.
In February, he told Oprah Winfrey that he would make a decision by the end of the month, saying, “I have been thinking about running for president. I’m so excited at the prospect of being able to play that role.”
O’Rourke also explained that Sanders and their three children Ulysses, 12, Molly, 10, and Henry, 8, were playing a major role in his decision to take on a possible presidency.
“Here’s part of it. I ran for Congress in 2012, sworn in in 2013. For the last 7 years, my family hasn’t seen me, I haven’t been there for them,” he said. “I haven’t helped Amy in raising these amazing kids in any significant, consistent way.”
“Now I’ve been home for 3 months, the longest period in the last 7 years,” he continued. “And I see firsthand what Amy does for these kids. I’ve also gotten to connect with my kids.”
“I want to make sure that we’re all good with this and we’re all on the same page,” O’Rourke added. “That we go in eyes wide open about what this would mean.”
Beginning in 2013, O’Rourke served three terms in Congress representing Texas’ 16th district. He also served on the El Paso City Council for six years prior to his Congressional career.
O’Rourke’s Senate race against Cruz drew national attention for being closer than expected in a typically Republican state.
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O’Rourke first made waves during his Senate campaign, when a clip of him defending NFL players kneeling during the national anthem went viral.
The clip of impassioned comments O’Rourke made at a town hall racked up millions of views and shares in August 2018. When asked if he thought the protests were “disrespectful,” O’Rourke responded, “My short answer is: No, I don’t think it’s disrespectful.”
As the audience applauded, he continued, “Peaceful, nonviolent protests, including taking a knee at a football game to point out that black men, unarmed, black teenagers, unarmed, and black children, unarmed, are being killed at a frightening level right now, including by members of law enforcement, without accountability, and without justice.”
He added: “And so nonviolently, peacefully, while the eyes of this country are watching these games, they take a knee to bring our attention and our focus to this problem to ensure that we fix it. That is why they are doing it. And I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up, or take a knee, for your rights, anytime, anywhere, in any place.”