Beto O'Rourke heads back to the 2020 campaign trail as some Texans urge Senate bid

By Emily Tillett

/ CBS News

As the El Paso, Texas community continues to grapple with the grim reality of becoming another mass shooting statistic, El Paso native and 2020 contender Beto O'Rourke is set to deliver his first major speech to the country from his hometown, outlining the path forward for his presidential campaign and for the future of the country.

O'Rourke has been notably absent from the campaign trail in the wake of the deadly shooting earlier this month, recently skipping the Democratic pilgrimage to the Iowa State Fair grounds to appeal to caucus voters. Instead, the O'Rourke campaign said the candidate returned to El Paso to "offer support to victims and grieving residents and to honor the legacy of the twenty-two people who lost their lives."

While missing from the trail, the Democrat was far from quiet. O'Rourke expressed outrage and grief over the mass shooting that targeted the city's Hispanic community at a Cielo Vista Walmart — and he called out President Trump for his incendiary rhetoric, suggesting the president was promoting acts of violence like the one in O'Rourke's hometown.

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"I mean, connect the dots about what he's been doing in this country. He's not tolerating racism, he's promoting racism. He's not tolerating violence, he's inciting racism and violence in this country," O'Rourke told a reporter in an expletive-filled rant the day after the shooting.

Beto O'Rourke says Trump's rhetoric "has a lot to do" with El Paso shooting

But as O'Rourke is set to make a full pitch for what he'd bring to the presidency, some members of the Texas community have other hopes for O'Rourke's future. In a recent op-ed in the Houston Chronicle, the paper's editorial board urged O'Rourke to "come home" and instead make another run for Senate, citing his frank and honest moments in the aftermath of the deadly shooting.

"We aren't used to seeing candidates act like real people. Frankly, it's made us wish O'Rourke would shift gears, and rather than un-pause his presidential campaign, we'd like to see him take a new direction. So Beto, if you're listening: Come home. Drop out of the race for president and come back to Texas to run for senator. The chances of winning the race you're in now are vanishingly small. And Texas needs you," the board wrote.

For now, O'Rourke is full steam ahead on his 2020 presidential run. He's back on social media, lambasting the Trump administration and calling out members of the media for not covering the president's raucous rallies with an "uncritical" eye.

But Thursday, however, will be O'Rourke's chance to show voters on a national scale, not just in Texas, that thoughts and prayers can only go so far.

First published on August 14, 2019 / 9:17 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Emily Tillett

Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital

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