If Beto O’Rourke could go back in time and convince Donald Trump to attend the rally in El Paso where O’Rourke first announced his presidential campaign, the former US congressman would have no doubt, “You got to show that you showed up for us before.”
“I’ve seen him five or six times recently and he has always said ‘nice to meet you,’” O’Rourke says in a new ad. “But then he got shot back into a reality that no longer has the people of Texas in its grips. And I fear I would have lost again.”
A video released Friday for a political ad by O’Rourke’s campaign portrays him as a former congressman and El Paso City Council member, discussing with a woman the difficulty of fighting against the illegal drug trade and the incessant violence that plagues the border city. The woman asks if he could go back in time and make it up to Trump.
O’Rourke then replies, “I think you said no.
The ad highlights O’Rourke’s message of hope and reuniting immigrant communities. It will air during Thursday night’s finale of the “NCIS” series and was first reported by Politico .
O’Rourke has a penchant for using fiction in his political messaging. He drew bipartisan praise when he announced his candidacy for president by releasing a book that had more than 30 fictional scenes. A newspaper report speculated that the novel was plagiarized from a book about the founding of Texas. O’Rourke later clarified that his novel had been written over 15 years ago, in part, because he had children at the time.
There’s an incongruity to O’Rourke’s popularity, though, among Republicans who cheered his announcement of his campaign, hoping for a challenger to one of President Donald Trump’s most favorite surrogates.
From 2000 to 2014, O’Rourke was named “Washington’s 10th Most Popular Congressman” by the journal Roll Call, and was considered one of the most prominent Texas politicians outside of Washington.
But O’Rourke often found himself in irrelevance in Washington, acting as a star of progressive groups focused on immigration reform who watched him seek the Democratic nomination for Senate four times in a row but never get far in the campaign.
In 2015, he left the state and hopped a plane to California, hoping to campaign with then-candidate Bernie Sanders. Though he was adoringly received on a friendly stage with a hostile audience, he subsequently returned to Texas a “wasted man” — O’Rourke told reporters that he returned to Texas only because he thought Texas was a loser in the presidential primary and that “it was my patriotic duty to bring attention to it.”
Not long after, he was left off the campaign trail after the Democrats’ only major candidate for Senate, Ted Cruz, called off his own tour and instead refused to debate the people who would later become his opponents.
His last efforts in politics, however, yielded some victories. He helped secure federal funding for road improvements along El Paso’s border, convinced President Barack Obama to sign a bill that granted prosecutorial discretion to undocumented immigrants under certain circumstances, and led House Democrats to pass legislation that prevented young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US illegally as children from being deported.
But to win these victories, O’Rourke drew on some of the tactics that other prospective Democratic candidates are courting. In a discussion with CNN about his decision to run for president, O’Rourke said that he was trying to speak directly to “folks from across the country” and that he wants to establish the political status quo as a serious change in Washington.
But the grass-roots group Our Revolution was not as enthused. Over the weekend, progressive labor union UFCW withdrew its endorsement of O’Rourke’s presidential bid, citing his voting record in Congress. According to the union, O’Rourke has a “meager record of progressive advocacy in Congress” and “is not a strong champion for workers or the middle class.”