Friday night, former Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke was forced to admit what most observers of his campaign have known for months: it was time to admit defeat and drop out of the race.
But while Beto-mania might have seemed fleeting for most election-watchers, who saw O’Rourke’s star fall amost immediately upon South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg — a similarly coiffed, but younger and more appealingly midwestern version of O’Rourke — entered the race, the news that Beto-mania had collapsed under its own sad weight was disappointing to the candidate’s dozens of hardcore supporters.
According to CNN’s Eric Bradner, O’Rourke’s own staff is treating O’Rourke’s failure the way Hillary Clinton treated hers: by failing to admit fault and blaming their campaign’s dramatic decline on everyone from the media to Donald Trump.
“They’re being polite about it, but not shy: O’Rourke supporters are furious about media coverage of his candidacy. They think the mockery was over the top, lasted far too long and was punitive over him declining national TV interviews early on,” Bradner tweeted as news of O’Rourke dropping out hit the airwaves.
They’re being polite about it, but not shy: O’Rourke supporters are furious about media coverage of his candidacy. They think the mockery was over the top, lasted far too long and was punitive over him declining national TV interviews early on.
— Eric Bradner (@ericbradner) November 1, 2019
Specifically, O’Rourke’s team is mad that their avant garde approach to campaigning wasn’t well received — that is, that audiences perceived O’Rourke as weird, overshare-y, and trying too hard rather than how the campaign thought stunts like a livestreamed tooth cleaning should play out.
O’Rourke’s campaign director explains.
grateful to this t-shirt we were going to put out but didn't pic.twitter.com/BN5s20k3GO
— Rob Flaherty (@Rob_Flaherty) November 1, 2019
Of course, what really happened was O’Rourke was roundly mocked for broadcasting his dentist appointment and potential supporters were left totally confused. Daily Wire’s own Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro, who conveniently had a dentist appointment booked for the day Beto’s video aired, even did a parody video, memorably.
It wasn’t media hatred.
But angry progressives piled on to the theme, regardless.
And there’s truth to at least part of that.
— Neera Tanden (@neeratanden) November 1, 2019
To state it mildly. Personally I believe he was our best chance to beat trump and regardless of my very real, anger, hurt, and disappointment, I don’t see much to hope in right now. “Business as usual” wins the day. MSM is worse than trump.
— Blue – TX BetoForever (@BlueTxBlue) November 1, 2019
The mainstream media, it seems, also disenfranchised Beto voters.
I will never forgive @cnn @cnnbrk @MSNBC @JoeNBC
@washingtonpost @VanityFair @DNC @DNCWarRoom @donlemon @CillizzaCNN @JRubinBlogger & the countless others who made certain Beto wouldn't have a chance. I will also never forgive @JoeBiden for running. I will not vote this primary.
— Lisa Mellers (@Flabbergast2017) November 2, 2019
“Treated worse than Trump.”
He was treated worse than Trump. https://t.co/RISLmo8rZq
— Živilee (@zivinilee) November 2, 2019
As a Beto supporter, I’ll admit there were several flaws to his campaign. But his biggest obstacle was definitely the unfair media coverage that was either viciously hypercritical or deliberately ignored his campaign completely. https://t.co/hsS6iKC64H
— Chris Deist (@seejaydiced) November 2, 2019
Of course, the mainstream media didn’t make O’Rourke livestream a dental appointment, or skateboard across a stage in Iowa, or pose for the cover of Vanity Fair with a sad-looking dog, drop the “f-word” in his speeches, predicate the last month of his tour on a proposal to use law enforcement to confiscate “assault weapons,” or admit to wearing an odd animal costume to perform in a band in the 1990s (earning him an inaccurate, if hilarious, association with Furries, a subculture that adopts animal personas and sometimes dresses in full-body “fursuits).
Those were all Beto’s campaign’s ideas.
In fact, Beto O’Rourke’s campaigning has always been a little cringey. Remember…”B-E-T-O?”
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) November 1, 2019
Beto O’Rourke’s campaign autopsy, authored by Politico, seems to indicate that he and his team knew the end was coming for quite a while and simply tried to stave off certain death until it became impossible to avoid. By last week, the campaign was running on so little money, O’Rourke would have been forced to pay for either advertising or a staff but not both. The money destined for a “Robert F. Kennedy” redux was falling into Pete Buttigieg’s pockets.
O’Rouke, Politico reports, ran an “unorthodox” campaign, but that has its specific limits. There’s a reason that most presidential efforts follow a very specific mold: it works.
“While other candidates were assembling campaign staffs and volunteer armies in early nominating states, O’Rourke lacked the infrastructure necessary to organize his own supporters. Lawmakers and major Democratic donors could not get calls returned. When the campaign’s skeletal staff promised to reach out, it sometimes forgot,” Politico says.
In addition, he had no core crew when he announced his campaign. He failed to handle the media and Democratic donors with ease, and then, he failed to raise any money. And then he livecast his dental work.