Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke dropped out of the 2020 presidential race Friday again — after reviving it on a gun-control platform in the wake of the El Paso Walmart shooting — and was quickly mocked by President Trump.
Oh no, Beto just dropped out of race for President despite him saying he was “born for this.” I don’t think so!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2019
O’Rourke had initially ended his campaign when a gunman killed 22 people at a Walmart in O’Rourke’s hometown of El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 3. O’Rourke then seized on the tragedy, saying he had to run again to take on gun ownership, including a vow during a debate that if elected he would take assault weapons away from current owners.
The NRA couldn’t contain its glee Friday on Twitter, posting “BREAKING: Beto O’Rourke has dropped out of the 2020 presidential race. That makes it two failed campaigns in one year! Let this be a lesson: Running on destroying the Second Amendment and stripping Americans of their firearms is never a good idea. #ByeBeto”
In an online post, O’Rourke said, “My service to the country will not be as a candidate or as the nominee.”
O’Rourke was originally urged to run for president by many Democrats, including supporters of former President Barack Obama, who were energized by his narrow Senate loss last year in Texas, a reliably Republican state. He raised a record $80 million from donors across the country, visited every county in Texas and used social media and livestreaming video to engage directly with voters. He ultimately lost to incumbent Republican Ted Cruz by 3 percentage points.
O’Rourke, 47, struggled to replicate that model in the presidential primary, and both his polling and his fundraising dwindled significantly in recent months.
“Though it is difficult to accept, it is clear to me now that this campaign does not have the means to move forward successfully,” he wrote on Medium. “Acknowledging this now is in the best interests of those in the campaign; it is in the best interests of this party as we seek to unify around a nominee; and it is in the best interests of the country.”
As O’Rourke’s standing in the presidential primary plummeted, some Democrats urged him to return to Texas for another Senate run. He has repeatedly denied having any interest in that race.
Herald wire services contributed to this report.
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