Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) revealed on Thursday evening that while he still has not figured out his future plans, he will “absolutely” be staying in the political sphere following his twice-failed bid for elected office.
“Any of you out there who have run for office before and come up short — some part of you wants to go deep into a cave and never come out again,” O’Rourke said during a telephone call with supporters. “That’s a natural part of the reaction, but I don’t think you get that pass in a democracy.”
“This country is counting on all of us,” he continued. “And if any one of us fails to do our part to the best of our ability, then we will fail this country and the generations that follow that are counting on us.”
The former Texas lawmaker announced only a week ago that he was officially ending his presidential campaign and dropping out of the race for the Democratic nomination in 2020. O’Rourke notably lost his bid to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) during the 2018 midterm election cycle after serving in the House of Representatives for three terms.
While O’Rourke claimed earlier in October that his bid for the presidency will be his last shot at elected office, he had already walked back his repeated pledge to Texans that if he lost the Senate race, he would definitively not be running for president in 2020.
O’Rourke told CNN’s Dana Bash in October 2018 that he “will not be a candidate for president in 2020,” and in the days leading up to the midterm elections the following month, the El Paso congressman again denied he would run against President Trump.
However, only a week after meeting with former President Barack Obama following his election loss, the Texas politician revealed that he had changed his mind and was considering walking back his pledge not to launch a bid for the presidency.
O’Rourke also told his supporters on Thursday that he is still trying to determine what his next steps are, but pledged to support Democratic candidates nationwide and promote the anti-Second Amendment agenda that ultimately became a keystone of his campaign.
“I am going to do everything that I can, and what form that takes and in what capacity I don’t know,” O’Rourke said on the call. “But certainly it will involve supporting great candidates all over this country from school board trustee to the next nominee for the presidency of the Democratic Party.”
“All of us have to commit to get behind the nominee from this party to make sure that she or he is successful against Donald Trump,” he added. “And then to make sure that once they become president, they help to heal this very divided country.”
O’Rourke’s presidential campaign was consistently struggling to gain traction — both his fundraising and polling numbers were relatively stagnant over the last two quarters despite relaunching his campaign for a third time in August. O’Rourke had not broken 5% support in any nationwide polls since April 2019, and when he ended his bid for the presidency, he was receiving less than 2% of the vote on average, according to Real Clear Politics.