Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) addressed rumors that he might be eyeing a presidential run in 2020, saying, “It’s a definitive no.”
“The answer is no,” he said during a town hall in McAllen, Texas on Thursday evening. “Our children are 11, they’re 10, and they’re 7 years old. We’ve told them we’re going to take these almost two years out of our life to run this race, and then we’re devoted and committed to being a family again.”
When CNN’s Dana Bash asked him whether he would rule out ever running for president, O’Rourke hedged.
“I mean, let me put it this way,” he said. “I promise to you, and most importantly, to the people of Texas, that I’ll serve every single day of a six-year term in the United States Senate and I won’t leave this state to go run for president.” He also said his family would go back to El Paso if he didn’t win.
The Democratic congressman running to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz has gained surprising momentum in the last few months, closing in on Cruz in what has, for decades, been a solidly red state. O’Rourke’s popularity has also expanded beyond Texas, and a national fundraising effort has garnered over $38 million for his campaign.
The skateboard-riding, Whataburger-eating candidate has positioned himself as a level-headed progressive staunchly opposed to the Trump administration. On Thursday, he reiterated his position that if elected to the Senate and given the opportunity, he would vote to impeach President Donald Trump.
In a Facebook Live video recorded in March while driving through Houston with O’Rourke, Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) suggested the Texas congressman could have what it takes for a presidential run.
“Look ― for a Democrat, at the moment, to be able to win statewide in Texas, I actually think is more difficult than to run for president,” Kennedy said.