What to Know
Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke represented Texas's 16th congressional district for three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In 2018 O'Rourke decided not to seek re-election, and instead ran for U.S. Senate and was defeated by Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz.
O'Rourke is a native of El Paso and served on the city council there from 2005 to 2011.
Beto O'Rourke is officially joining the 2020 race for the White House. After months of speculation, he announced his decision Thursday morning. But, before Beto O'Rourke headed off to Iowa, he spoke with NBC DFW political reporter Julie Fine.
She asked him what made him decide to get into the race.
"We spent a lot of time with family after I completed my term in Congress, really got to be together again, and really got to think long and hard about the future of our kids, and by extension the future of this country. And when we looked out at that, there is no sitting on the sidelines, there is no hoping that somebody else can get this done. It is all of us, all in with everything we have got for everyone. That is how we came to the conclusion that the best way that we can serve this country is running to be President of the United States," said O'Rourke.
He is hoping this campaign has shades of what Texans saw in the Senate race against Senator Ted Cruz. O'Rourke spent more than a year on the road, visiting all 254 counties in the state.
"What we saw in Texas is that everyone stepped up to help lead this campaign. It was a campaign of people not PACS, but at the same token this national campaign will be about everyone in every single state of the union. Perhaps especially those who live in places that have been overlooked or forgotten," he added.
While O'Rourke came close to winning in Texas, he did not. Senator Cruz won by more than 2 and a half points. We asked him since he did not win the race here, what makes him think he can win nationwide.
"We didn't win the race for Senate in Texas, but we got to be part of something that was profoundly positive. If you look at the other races that were won, 17 African American women who won judicial positions in Harris county alone. Folks who won in what were thought to be safe Republican districts being the first Democrat to represent them in ages. So many more who are not running for office who are engaged who have voted for the first time," said O'Rourke. "We saw a 500 percent increase in young voter turnout in Texas in the 2018 cycle, so we may not have won this one election but I think we set the stage for some wonderful things to happen in Texas, and by extension the rest of the country. This is one of the states one the national stage that has been overlooked."
O'Rourke enters a very crowded field of Democratic candidates.
"The people who have chosen to run for the Democratic nomination are the best in a generation. Not only do they bring diversity, and background and experience, but talent and skill in message. And it shows that our democracy can still work, that it is vigorous enough to hold 17, 18 candidates in this arena seeking the nomination," said O'Rourke. "What I hope to do is to share my perspective, our perspective from the U.S.-Mexico border on issues like security and immigration, and the fact that El Paso is one of the safest cities in the United States and America, not in spite of, but because of the fact that we are a city of immigrants."
O'Rourke is the second candidate from Texas to enter the race, joining former San Antonio mayor and Housing and Urban Development Secretary in the Obama administration Julian Castro.