Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas made his long-expected presidential bid official Thursday with a campaign video where he declared the 2020 race a "defining moment for the country," as well as a Vanity Fair magazine cover and a first-ever trip to Iowa.
"Beto O'Rourke is a rock star among the Democrats right now because he is the antidote to everything that Hillary Clinton wasn't," said Republican analyst Patrick Griffin. "That is, young — he's 46 — charismatic, and from a large red state."
Griffin thinks O'Rourke may be the best choice for Democrats looking past the primary at their number one goal: beating Donald Trump.
"Who beats Trump in Wisconsin, in Pennsylvania, in Michigan? Probably a progressive white male from a big state like Texas with money," Griffin said. "That's Beto O'Rourke."
"Voters will pick a Republican over a socialist," said Democratic analyst Evan Falchuk. "So Democrats have to have candidates who are willing to say that they're capitalists and willing to fight for what America stands for."
Falchuk says O'Rourke doesn't threaten the support of the farthest left-leaning candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren as much as the more moderate candidates like Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris and likely candidate Joe Biden.
"He's an A-list candidate," Falchuk said. "He's the kind of person that can speak to the progressive voters that are so fired up right now, but can also reach out to those voters in the middle that are what matters in winning an election."
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O'Rourke has his challenges — his resume is on the thin side, and he doesn't have many legislative accomplishments. But his supporters say his innate political skills and proven success on the campaign trail make him a top contender.