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A Houston newspaper that endorsed former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke during his failed run to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz last year has implored him to pull out of the race for the White House.
In an editorial published over the weekend, the Houston Chronicle said O’Rourke should shift gears and “come home.”
“Drop out of the race for president and come back to Texas to run for senator,” the piece said. “The chances of winning the race you’re in now are vanishingly small. And Texas needs you.”
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The board said it would rather see him challenge Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who is seeking a fourth term.
“It wouldn’t be easy,” it said. “You’d have to fight for it, and do better than you did against Cruz. But a lot has changed since 2018 — you had a lot to do with that — and Trump is no longer rock-solid in Texas. Neither are the Republicans who support him.”
The paper cited O’Rourke’s comments — what the piece called a “human moment” — following the Aug. 3 mass shooting in El Paso, where 22 people were killed by a gunman targeting Mexicans inside a Walmart. He was asked by a reporter whether he felt President Trump could do anything to bring down the atmosphere of hate toward immigrants.
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“Um, what do you think?” O’Rourke responded. “You know the s— he’s been saying. He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I don’t know. … Like, members of the press — what the f—? It’s these questions that you know the answers to …”
“Is that language presidential? Not normally,” the Chronicle editorial board wrote. “It certainly isn’t the normal fare for an editorial page in the Sunday paper, either, with or without the asterisks. But it struck us as so unscripted, so unexpected that its offense was somehow washed away.”
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In its 2018 endorsement of O’Rourke, the Chronicle said the former West Texas congressman’s “command of issues that matter to this state, his unaffected eloquence and his eagerness to reach out to all Texans make him one of the most impressive candidates this editorial board has encountered in many years.”
O’Rourke’s momentum since entering the crowded Democratic field has slipped in recent months. The Real Clear Politics national primary poll average has him at 2 percent, tied for sixth with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.