Donald Trump; Beto O'Rourke (Getty/Mark Wilson/AP/LM Otero)

Beto O'Rourke baits Donald Trump's ire with viral border tweet

"I thought you were supposed to win before you run for president," Trump said of a potential Democratic challenger


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Shira Tarlo
December 21, 2018 10:24PM (UTC)

President Donald Trump on Friday took a jab at Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), who is allegedly becoming more serious by the day about forging a White House bid in 2020, by pointing at his loss last month in the Texas Senate race.

"I thought you were supposed to win before you run for president," Trump told reporters gathered at a bill-signing ceremony in the Oval Office. (Trump's election as president was his first campaign— and first victory in a race — for elected office.)

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Hours earlier, O'Rourke questioned the president's push to shut down the federal government in order to get funding to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border:

O'Rourke raised a staggering $38 million in the third quarter of his Senate campaign — the most of any Senate candidate in history — and his closer-than-expected performance to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, last month, as well as his post-election missives, have fueled interest from Democratic donors and the highest levels of the Democratic Party that the right candidate could turn the reddest states blue.

Although O'Rourke said during his Senate campaign that he did not have Oval Office aspirations, he admitted late last month that his position had changed from what he said on the campaign trail and that he and his wife had "made a decision not to rule anything out."  By signaling that he is even open to throwing his hat in the ring for 2020, however, O'Rourke has continued to generate buzz and speculation in the sprawling field of prospective Democratic candidates for 2020.

Former President Barack Obama even appears eager about the possibility of O'Rourke 2020. Obama reportedly met with O'Rourke at his post-presidency offices in Washington, D.C., last month, amid pressure from Obama aides eager for O'Rourke to seize on his high political stock and fundraising prowess following his nationally-watched campaign against Cruz.

Obama, speaking to his former White House adviser David Axelrod on his podcast last month, also called O'Rourke "an impressive young man who ran a terrific race in Texas" and drew comparisons between O'Rourke and himself.

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"What I liked most about his race was that it didn't feel constantly poll-tested," Obama said. "It felt as if he based his statements and his positions on what he believed. And that, you'd like to think, is normally how things work. Sadly, it's not."

O'Rourke is just one of many names being floated as a potential challenger to Trump in what is expected to be a very crowded Democratic field in 2020. Should O'Rourke decide to run, he would likely face competition for the Democratic nomination from Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders, (I-VT.),  Kamala Harris, (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren, (D-Mass.). Former Vice President Joe Biden has also hinted that he is weighing a White House bid and President Barack Obama's former Secretary of State John Kerry recently alluded to mounting a presidential bid — and these names are far from the complete list.

A straw poll from the progressive group MoveOn.org released last week revealed O'Rourke is the leading Democratic contender for the 2020 presidential race, with 15.6 percent of responders supporting his candidacy. He was followed by Biden with 14.9 percent, Sanders with 13.1 percent, Harris with 10.0 percent and Warren with 6.4 percent.


Shira Tarlo

Contact Shira Tarlo at shira.tarlo@salon.com. Follow @shiratarlo.

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