Last week in Boston, Beto O’Rourke stopped at a pub to have a few beers. O’Rourke did not make the stop in search of big money donors or even votes in a state that has a really meaningful primary. All O’Rourke wanted to do was stand on a box in the middle of the pub and speak his mind and that is exactly what he did.
The crowd at the Boston Pub was young, diverse and not reaching to write checks. The crowd was prepared to hear O’Rourke’s profane riff on his proposed gun buybacks.
O’Rourke drank a Ricochet IPA and answered questions. He then got back in line and ordered another beer. Two women joined him as he raised his beer and offered a “Salud.”
O’Rourke, who has been labeled the “Democratic Darling” by the media has decided that doing the obvious is no longer on his agenda.
The changes in O’Rourke’s take on his campaign began with the August 3, mass shooting in O’Rourke’s hometown of El Paso, Texas. A single gunman killed 22 and left dozens more injured outside of a Walmart packed with back to school shoppers.
Since the mass shooting O’Rourke has been running his campaign on reckless abandon, breaking the norm and re-igniting the spark that he had lost. The El Paso tragedy seemed to kick his compassion and commitment into gear on a whole different level.
When speaking about gun reform O’Rourke dropped the F-bomb and has rolled with that attitude ever since. His new approach is real and compelling.
“That’s where I think he’s at now,” Moses Mercado, a Democratic lobbyist from Texas, told me. “He’s like, ‘OK, well, screw it.’”
“Eff it,” Austin-based Republican strategist Brendan Steinhauser said.
“He has no f*cks to give,” added Jay Surdukowski, an attorney and activist who is one of O’Rourke’s most devoted backers in New Hampshire.
“This feels right to me,” O’Rourke said when I asked him about how he’s currently campaigning. He added that this was “the way politics should be.”
The only question that remains is O’Rourke’s caution-free new style because he now cares less about his candidacy or because he cares so much more.