Beto O'Rourke's High School Past, Trump's Chances in 2020, Blackface at UT, Laura Miller's Return

Good morning! Here are the top political headlines from the campaign trail, Austin, Washington and Dallas.Points from the trail1. Beto O'Rourke, 15 and stewing, wanted to make a break from his hometown of El Paso.To have a bit of adventure. To get out of his home. To gain some independence from his father, Pat, a "larger than life figure" whom he loved but with whom he found himself increasingly at odds. Finding his escape in 1988 through Woodberry Forest School -- an elite, all-male boarding school in Virginia -- he also made a critical choice. He would no longer go by his childhood nickname but instead by his given name, Robert.Beto, of course, is now a one-word political phenomenon. The El Paso Democrat is considering a White House run -- to both the bemusement and chagrin of his detractors, some of whom mock him by calling him Robert -- after earning viral attention last year for his closer-than-expected race against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.Read more from Washington correspondent Tom Benning's trip to Woodberry and interviews with O'Rourke and his high school friends.2. The swarm of Democratic contenders descending on Iowa and New Hampshire is growing so big that last week, the party said only the top 20 will get invited to debate when they start in a few months. That's a lot of would-be presidents. But once voting starts, few will survive.In 2020, candidates will have precious little time to recover from early stumbles, or to capitalize on surprise wins. Because right after Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada -- where retail-level politicking is at a premium -- the race explodes into a massive Super Tuesday that includes the two biggest prizes, California and Texas.That puts a premium on money and organization. And it likely means a big boost for these three home state favorites, Washington bureau chief Todd J. Gillman writes.3. For his column this week, political writer Gromer Jeffers Jr. invited readers to step into the middle of one of his barroom conversations. It had turned to politics -- specifically President Donald Trump, who on Friday declared a national emergency to shift funding in the budget to pay for his wall along the southern border.The bottom line: People didn't care.Read more about the disconnect Gromer says he's seeing in Texas and across the nation between the political debate waged by politicians and the media, and some voters who will participate in the 2020 presidential election.Points from Austin  Continue reading...

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