Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke formally announced that he will seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday, ending months of intense speculation over if and when he would enter the race.
He joins dozens of other candidates at a time when Democrats are seeking a candidate with the kind of star-power that could lead the party to victory in 2020.
"The only way for us to live up to the promise of America is to give it our all and to give it for all of us," O'Rourke said in his announcement video. "We are truly now, more than ever, the last great hope of Earth."
“This moment of peril produces perhaps the greatest moment of promise for this country and for everyone inside it,’’ Mr. O’Rourke said.
Mr. O’Rourke highlighted his immigration stance in his video announcement on Thursday, saying, “All of us, wherever you live, can acknowledge that if immigration is a problem it’s the best possible problem for this country to have.’’
“This is going to be a positive campaign that seeks to bring out the very best from every single one of us, that seeks to unite a very divided country,” O’Rourke added. “We saw the power of this in Texas.”
Commentators weigh in:
"I think his chance in the fall was unique in that the Democratic Party felt really good after the elections, but we felt like we didn't really have any superstars in the party, and he was seen as one of the only superstars," said Sean Bagniewski, the Democratic chairman in Iowa's Polk County.
"But in the time since then, you know, you've got Joe Biden coming in -- Joe Biden's a superstar. Bernie, Kamala, Cory, Warren," Bagniewski said. "Their stocks have gone up in the meantime."
Obama has previously offered his endorsement to the younger politician.
"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."
However, others were more skeptical of Beto’s chances and his sometimes melodramatic messaging strategy.
"The best day of Beto's campaign may have been about two months ago. Before the self-described 'funk,' before the self-indulgent road trip, before live-streaming his visit to the dental hygienist," said Democratic strategist Krystal Ball. "I think it will be hard for Democrats to imagine that the way to win back the Midwest is with a privileged emo dude who couldn't beat the most hated man in the Senate."
Toward the end of his January road trip, O'Rourke took to Medium again to lay out his own views.
"How do we come together? How do we stop seeing each other as outsiders? How do we reconcile our differences, account for the injustices visited upon so many, understand the pride that each of us feels for ourselves, our families, our point of view -- and respond to the urgent needs of this great democracy at its moment of truth? As the country literally begins to shut down, how can we come together to revive her?" he wrote.
"I know we can do it. I can't prove it, but I feel it and hear it and see it in the people I meet and talk with. ... It's complicated. But a big part of it has got to be just listening to one another, learning each other's stories, thinking 'whatever affects this person, affects me.' We're in this together, like it or not. The alternative is to be in this apart, and that would be hell."
O'Rourke said he would build a campaign and administration that "looks like this country."
"But I totally understand people who will make a decision based on the fact that almost every single one of our presidents has been a white man, and they want something different for this country," he said. "And I think that's a very legitimate basis upon which to make a decision. Especially in the fact that there are some really great candidates out there right now."