Just a few short months ago, Beto O'Rourke was the Democratic Party's last, best hope. But after a series of unfortunate events — including a long vacation from the public eye to "recover" from the heartbreak of losing a Senate campaign to Ted Cruz — the former Texas hearthtrob is looking for a way back into America's hearts, and he's planning on using Oprah to do it.
On Tuesday, Beto O'Rourke will make an appearance on Oprah Winfrey's live special, “Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations from Times Square," where he's expected to talk about his presidential prospects and whether he's planning on running for the nation's top office in 2020, according to the Associated Press.
Members of the "Draft Beto" coalition certainly hope he's amenable to taking on the current crop of Democratic luminaries.
“A lot of people have been projecting their own desires to see him run and they’re hoping that he will announce on Oprah, which would be so fitting,” Draft Beto's co-founder told the AP. “I’m hoping he at least does give some indication of where he’s at.”
But Beto isn't easy to tie down, and sources close to the candidate say he hasn't yet made up his mind whether he'll run for president in 2020 or whether he'll run again for Senate (or even whether he'll run again, period). His 2018 loss hit him hard, and O'Rourke says he's been dealing with the "exhaustion" of losing a major statewide race since last November.
"There are people who are smarter on this stuff and study this stuff and are following this and say you’ve got to do it this way or get in by this point or get in in this way if you were to get in," O’Rourke told Politico just a few short weeks ago. "I think the truth is that nobody knows right now the rules on any of this stuff. I think the rules are being written in the moment."
The interview with Oprah makes perfect sense: Oprah broke her commitment to stay out of politics to endorse then-Senator Barack Obama, giving him a national platform and an a megaphone he otherwise might not have had. Oprah can greatly expand the reach of a brand name, and right now, Beto needs to build recognition if he wants to maintain his popularity.
But if Beto is less than enthusiastic about engaging in a national campaign, there are signs that Beto supporters are, perhaps, just as wary. The Draft Beto movement is developing very slowly, and only a dozen or so people showed up to its first official meeting in Concord, New Hampshire, according to The Boston Globe. The "house party" was reminiscent of some of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)'s inaugural get togethers in 2016 during her "Ready for Warren" campaign, which involved little more than a handful of elderly supporters and some sad crudite.
As for Oprah's audience, they aren't exactly busting down the doors to get to Beto, either. According to reporters on the scene Tuesday morning, most of those lined up in Times Square were waiting for Oprah's other guests.
"Talking to people standing in line for Oprah-Beto event in Times Square, it’s a lot of 'Beto who?' They’re here to see Oprah herself, and Michael B Jordan and Bradley Cooper," a CBS news reporter on the scene tweeted.
Talking to people standing in line for Oprah-Beto event in Times Square, it’s a lot of “Beto who?” They’re here to see Oprah herself, and Michael B Jordan and Bradley Cooper.— Caitlin Huey-Burns (@CHueyBurns) February 5, 2019
Beto's interview will air on Winfrey's OWN Network, but not until February 16th.