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March 14, 2019, 9:56 PM GMT
From Jonathan Allen
WASHINGTON – Beto O & Rourke & # 39; s fans like to compare him to Barack Obama.
Like the previous Democratic president, the former congressman from Texas – who had set fire to the base of the party in his losing Senate bid against Ted Cruz in November last year – has a natural balance on the stump, a youthful energy and a ability to smoothly switch between the facial expression of lofty powers ideas and just talk.
And, like Obama, he says his ideas – no matter how liberal – lie for Democrats, Republicans and those who do not identify with one of the major political parties.
Those parallels help explain why many Obama alumni are drawn to R & Rourke, and it makes sense to some extent for fans of both men to invite a comparison that renews Obama & # 39; s brand as the definition of a fresh, hip political figure and anoints O & # 39; Rourke as the second coming of the last Democrat to win the White House.
"The strongest resemblance between him and Obama, I think, is that they both believe in using the office of the presidency to give people hope, inspire us and unite us toward a better future," Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Who supported O & Rourke Thursday, said in a text message. "Our country would benefit from its compassion, authenticity and unifying vision."
But these two "O" men differ in important ways that can help determine whether O & # 39; Rourke can actually follow in Obama's footsteps.
When R & Rourke launched his presidential campaign Thursday in a video straight from the bank – as Hillary Clinton did in 2007 – he described the challenges for the country and the world in the most epic terms.
"We are really more than ever the last big hope on earth," he said.
There were squeezes in policy areas such as climate change, immigration and criminal justice reform, but not much about his biography, his record or specific plans that he would embrace in his campaign.
"As attractive as he is, I don't know where Beto stands on anything," said Bill Press, a liberal talk show host and author of "Buyer & # 39; s Remorse: How Obama Let Progressiveives Down," said in a telephone interview.
Some Democratic voters were disappointed that Obama was unable to deliver on all his lofty campaign track promises, Press said.
Sometimes O & # 39; Rourke looks a lot like Obama.
"We have never been divided or polarized again, more driven by bias," he said in his announcement. "We have to come together, make damn differences, find the things we have in common, and go for it and do it, that's the way I've been operating and that's the way I want to work in the future."
But the bar for democratic voters who buy his rhetoric can be higher.
"I think many people will demand Beto more after the Obama experience," said Press.
The truth is that R & Rourke did not do much on the legislative front during his three minority term in the House, and that he did not make a name for himself as a political force for co-democrats.
Thursday, during a conversation with Iowans, O & Rourke talked about the different types of experience he had as a city councilor in El Paso, Texas, and as a small business owner.
"I may not have served in the house forever – six years, three terms – but I served in other ways," he said. "And the way we've been campaigning … for the last two years in Texas – going everywhere, being for everyone, listening to everyone – that's really what I think this country needs right now."
But he is far less prepared for the 2020 scramble than Obama was when he started his campaign for president some ten years ago.
By the time Obama arrived at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield for his official launch event, he was able to point to a legislative record at both the federal and federal level – though thinner than that of some of his rivals – with achievements that match the story of his presidential campaign. That day he highlighted a moratorium on the death penalty, health insurance for children and ethics reform as problems he had worked on.
Fundamentally, it was non-partisan issues that had made dual efforts to implement.
More important for Democratic primary voters was that in previous years Obama had put together a political and policy operation that helped him make legislation, navigate the landmines of Senate votes, build up goodwill by traveling the country to raise money for fellow Democrats and to cherish a growing national population. with an ever-increasing list of donors and activists.
Ben LaBolt, a democratic strategist who worked for Obama in the White House and on the campaign path, said there are similarities in style, but substantive differences.
"Neither Obama nor Beto are soundbite candidates," LaBolt said in an email exchange with Good King News. "They put their message in terms of a historical story, what kind of moment we experience, and they both work to be culturally relevant, helping them to make contact with the younger generation and with voters who are traditionally not attracted to politics "
But he added: "Obama was defined by taking a major position on one of the main issues of the election that distinguished him from his competitors – opposition to the war in Iraq. … Beto distinguishes itself less by a major problem or record in Congress. "
Obama spent the three years between his milestone in the 2004 Democratic National Convention and the launch of his presidential bid that was preparing to run to the highest office in the country. He was ready for the fight.
In contrast, O & # 39; Rourke has soared.
That does not mean that he will not use the money that will certainly roll in as fast as the semiconductors can run on the campaign computer to build a campaign worthy of the price he is aiming for, but his approach has hardly been the same.
The foundations of O & # 39; Rourke & # 39; s race are also very different: instead of just seeing Hillary Clinton and John Edwards as serious competitors in the Democratic Primary, as Obama did in 2008, O & # 39; Rourke is a sea of candidates, and if he wins that scramble, he will go against a sitting president.
There are also differences between the two men about policy. The supporters of Bernie Sanders have tackled the examples in which O & Rourke voted the political right of most Democrats to amend, among other things, Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. O & # 39; Rourke also voted to condemn the Obama administration for transferring prisoners from Guantanamo Bay without informing Congress.
Aside from the policy, there is danger in R & Rourke who ties himself too close to Obama, said a Democratic strategist: it's hard to measure with party icons.
"Do you want to be compared to JFK?" asked the strategist, who asked to remain anonymous because he might be doing work for one of the democratic campaigns.