Tonight's CNN Town Hall Gives Beto O'Rourke a Shot at Reanimating Campaign

WASHINGTON -- After shunning national TV exposure for the first two months of his presidential effort, El Paso's Beto O'Rourke will field questions Tuesday night on a live CNN town hall.Drake University in Des Moines is hosting the event, moderated by Dana Bash, which airs at 9 p.m. CDT. O'Rourke has devoted much of his campaign to Iowa already. It's where he shook his first hand and jumped on his first coffee house counter top to deliver a stump speech as a presidential contender.He's fielded more questions from voters and held more town hall-style events in two months than nearly all of his rivals for the Democratic nomination, including some who've been running for a year. But the CNN event raised the stakes, bringing a risk of tougher questions while also offering his biggest audience yet.Last week, O'Rourke appeared on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show and ABC's The View in what turned to be the start of a new, media-friendly phase. Backers had been urging him to shift tactics, because the buzz surrounding the former three-term congressman from El Paso is long gone. As Sen. Ted Cruz's challenger last fall, O'Rourke enjoyed the goodwill and best wishes of Democrats around the country. He raised a stunning $80 million, a record for any Senate candidate ever, and came closer than any Texas Democrat to breaking the 25-year GOP stranglehold on statewide posts.Activists in Iowa, New Hampshire and elsewhere urged him to jump into the presidential race. But his star has faded.A Quinnipiac University Poll released on Tuesday showed he's the first choice of just 2% of Democrats surveyed nationwide -- down from 12% nearly two months earlier.Other polls show the same downward trend.  Continue reading...

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