AP NEWS

O’Rourke won’t rule out being vice presidential candidate

February 19, 2019
FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2018, file photo, U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, the 2018 Democratic Candidate for U.S. Senate in Texas, makes his concession speech at his election night party in El Paso, Texas. When Donald Trump visited O'Rourke's hometown to argue that walling off the southern border makes the U.S. safer, the former Democratic congressman and possible 2020 presidential hopeful was ready. As the president filled an El Paso arena with supporters, O'Rourke helped lead thousands of his own on a protest march past the barrier of barbed-wire topped fencing and towering metal slats that separates El Paso from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Beto O’Rourke said Tuesday that he hasn’t ruled out being a 2020 vice presidential candidate — even as he plans to decide in the next 10 days if he’ll seek the presidency.

Answering a question in Spanish about the possibility of being another candidate’s running mate, the Democratic former Texas congressman answered in Spanish: “I’m going to consider every way to serve this country. And, yes, that will include anything.”

O’Rourke, who became a political star by nearly upsetting Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in November, was honored at a luncheon in his native El Paso, a U.S.-Mexico border city, as the 2018 El Pasoan of the Year. He said in English that he may yet opt to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the Republican whip, in 2020.

He said his next step “may involve running for the presidency. It may involve something else.”

Advisers to former Vice President Joe Biden, who is considering a White House run of his own, said in December that they’d approached O’Rourke’s camp about his being a vice presidential candidate. O’Rourke said then that he’d not spoken to Biden, and his camp hasn’t dismissed the idea since.

O’Rourke, who was a superdelegate for Hillary Clinton at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, applauded Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ announcement on Tuesday that he was joining the crowded field of 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls. But, he added, “I’m not going to consider other candidates” when deciding for himself.

O’Rourke said he’s still weighing what effect any national campaign would have on his wife and three small children.

“I want to make sure that I think that through. I won’t be limited by the end of this month, but I expect to be able to get to a decision by the end of this month,” he said.

He said he wasn’t sure what such an announcement might look like, or whether it would be a rally in El Paso like the one he staged across the street from President Donald Trump’s speech here last week. O’Rourke also said he didn’t know if he’d hire a pollster or political consultants, which he had shunned while challenging Cruz.

“I haven’t really gotten to thinking through those kinds of issues,” O’Rourke said. “I think any campaign I run, including for school board of El Paso Independent School District, I would want to run the same way I’ve run every race, as grassroots as possible.”

O’Rourke addressed thousands at a baseball diamond Feb. 11 across the street from Trump’s rally, denouncing border walls as ineffective and racist — even though his city has had some form of barrier separating it from neighboring Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, for decades.

O’Rourke later suggested on MSNBC that he’d tear down El Paso’s walls. But he clarified Tuesday that he supports physical barriers along some parts of the U.S.-Mexico border, saying that his past sentiments applied only to El Paso and were part of a larger argument that border walls haven’t made the city safer.

“I think there is a role for physical barriers in some places,” O’Rourke said. “I’m just as concerned about border security and safety as anyone. I live here. I’m raising my kids a short walk from the U.S.-Mexico border. But we won’t achieve that safety and security through walls.”

He said he’d work with landowners and local leaders in border communities and others who “actually live there” to determine where walls might work.

“Yes, let’s have security,” O’Rourke said. “Let’s have safety, but let’s do it intelligently.”