‘Born to be in it’: Ex-punk muso Beto O’Rourke declares he’s out to trounce Trump

Beto O'Rourke told local media he would declare his candidacy Thursday, US time.

Beto O'Rourke told local media he would declare his candidacy Thursday, US time. Photo: Getty

Everyone is talking about Beto O’Rourke, the latest candidate to put a hand up for the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, whose ultimate aim is to take down Republican Donald Trump.

Early reports of his candidacy ­– which he declared on Thursday evening  – sparked criticisms that he has a messiah complex, but one without a vision.

“Man, I’m just born to be in it, and want to do everything I humanly can for this country at this moment,” Mr O’Rourke told Vanity Fair in a profile published this week.

“You can probably tell that I want to run,” he admitted. “I do. I think I’d be good at it.”

So who is he?

The 46-year-old’s profile was cemented last year by a viral video of him declaring his support for black NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality in the United States.

And he’s edgy, having formed the band Foss in the 1990s with Cedric Bixler-Zavala, who went on to front punk acts, At the Drive In and Mars Volta.

beto o'rourke - foss

Beto O’Rourke is pictured on the left of the Foss album. Photo: Foss

Mr O’Rourke entered politics in 2005 with the El Paso City Council, won a Congress spot in 2012, and resigned to take on Ted Cruz in a Senate bid in 2018 – a quest which he narrowly failed.

His campaign was dogged by a decades-old drunk-driving arrest, which had been a disappointment to his father, Pat O’Rourke – once an El Paso County Commissioner and County Judge.

The Texas Republican Party had also tried to mock Mr O’Rourke during the campaign by tweeting the cover of 1993 Foss record, The El Paso Pussycats, in which he wore a dress.

Beyoncé supported Mr O’Rourke’s 2018 Senate bid, while Oprah Winfrey and his former bandmate, Bixler-Zavala, both reportedly urged him to nominate for the primaries.

Mr O’Rourke built an almost celebrity following after galvanising a strong voter turnout in Texas.

“There is something abnormal, supernormal, that we both experience when we’re out on the campaign trail,” he told Vanity Fair, speaking of himself and wife Amy Sanders, the daughter of a property tycoon.

Together, they have three young children, aged from eight to 12, named Molly, Ulysses and Henry.

“I only want you to run if you’re gonna win,” Ulysses reportedly told his dad.

But as Slate wrote in a scathing analysis, Mr O’Rourke is missing one important thing: “An actual reason to run.”

So what are his politics?

That seems to be a question many people are asking.

Mr O’Rourke describes himself as a bridge-builder, willing to work with the staunch right-wing and hesitant to be labelled a progressive.

“I’m not big on labels. I don’t get all fired up about party or classifying or defining people based on a label or a group. I’m for everyone,” he reportedly said in his final congressional town hall last year.

So the saying goes: if you’re for everyone, you’re for no one.

But he has worked towards drug legalisation, and wants to soften the stance on immigration, having lived in El Paso on the Mexico border.

Mr O’Rourke wants to end the war on drugs and is keen on an amnesty that would open the way for illegal immigrants to become citizens, recently mounting a counter-protest to Mr Trump’s ‘Finish the Wall’ march.

He also supports healthcare for all and action on climate change, even if he isn’t seen to have policy solutions to get there.

In contrast to fellow Democrat nominee Senator Bernie Sanders – who also made a grassroots run against Hillary Clinton in the last primaries – Mr O’Rourke is a proud capitalist.

Other candidates in the primaries include senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, plus a declared legion of other hopefuls. Joe Biden, Ovama’s vice-president, has yet to declare if he will nominate, but has been dropping broad hints that an announcement is imminent.

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