Beto O’Rourke announces 2020 Democratic presidential bid

MOUNT PLEASANT IOWA- MARCH 15 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke talks with voters during his second day of campaigning for the 2020 nomination at Central Park Coffee Company

Former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke has announced his candidacy for president of the United States in 2020, laying out his agenda in a bid to become the Democratic Party's nominee. It remains to be seen, though, whether O'Rourke's home-state appeal could truly make Texas competitive.

"You can probably tell that I want to run", he said.

Two people familiar with O'Rourke's planning told AP the Democrat is expected to visit Burlington Iowa, a working class community on the MS river in the southeastern part of the state.

O'Rourke joins a large and unsettled 2020 field in which his fundraising prowess, southwestern Texas charm and anti-establishment attitude have quickly turned political heads.

That's how he approached the Texas Senate race that made him a national star and paved the way for the biggest challenge of his career. The former three-term congressman ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2018 against Republican Ted Cruz.

Trump, for his part, took note of O'Rourke's energetic gesticulation, on display as several cable TV networks aired O'Rourke's comments. Though he lost by three points, O'Rourke's grassroots, retail politics campaigning and impassioned speeches fueled his meteoric rise and marked a serious challenge for the Republican incumbent in a state that hasn't seen a Democrat win statewide elected office since 1994.

Trademark, black-and-white "Beto for Senate" yard signs became staples in places like NY and Los Angeles - with some supporters now converting them to read "Beto for President 2020". "Beto runs the risk of appearing shallow, but he projects leadership, which is what the presidency is all about", he noted.

O'Rourke refused to hire pollsters for his Senate campaign and only employed a digital consulting firm. "At this moment of maximum peril and maximum potential, let's show ourselves and those who will succeed us in this great country, just who we are and what we can do".

Other 2020 Democratic hopefuls have promoted their extensive legislative records.

Klobuchar said she does not believe O'Rourke tightens her lane - "I don't think there's lanes yet" - and dodged a question about his ability to raise money after he raised and spent $80 million in his Texas Senate race. O'Rourke accused Trump of stoking "false fear" about immigrants. Bernie Sanders' 2016 Democratic presidential campaign who worry O'Rourke is too moderate to excite Democrats' liberal base.

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