The Note: Beto seeks El Paso reboot

Beta seeks an El Paso reboot as Trump prepares for New Hampshire.

August 15, 2019, 6:02 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Hometowns have had a way of mattering in this election cycle -- sometimes awkwardly so -- from Pete Buttigieg's South Bend to Cory Booker's Newark to Bill de Blasio's New York.

Now, another candidate as associated with the city he's from is as any of those is seeking to relaunch his campaign around that place -- and the pain and fear it has come to represent.

Former congressman Beto O'Rourke will be speaking Thursday morning in El Paso. He will outline his vision for the rest of his campaign -- for the presidency, not for the Senate -- from a site that overlooks his city and its sister Ciudad Juarez in Mexico.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke speaks during a rally against the visit of President Donald Trump after a shooting at a Walmart store, in El Paso, Texas, Aug. 7, 2019.
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke speaks during a rally against the visit of President Donald Trump after a shooting at a Walmart store, in El Paso, Texas, Aug. 7, 2019.
Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

According to aides and associates, O'Rourke will describe how he's been changed by the experiences of the last 10 days -- and how he wants his campaign to change to reflect his renewed urgency.

The massacre in El Paso and its aftermath have added a twist to a campaign that's already experienced extreme highs and lows. Some of the most powerful moments of O'Rourke's presidential run have come since he pulled himself off the campaign trail to stay in his hometown after the shooting.

O'Rourke's challenge from here is to unite his message of healing divisions with his anger at President Donald Trump over the way he seeks to exploit divisions. Recall that the mild-mannered O'Rourke broke through in recent days by calling Trump a "racist" and a "white supremacist," and by dropping the F-bomb on a reporter's question about the president's rhetoric.

O'Rourke's hope is to pick up not where he left off, but closer to where he started from.

The RUNDOWN with Alisa Wiersema

As Trump prepares for his first New Hampshire rally of the 2020 campaign cycle on Thursday night, he's aiming to make a mark in a state he narrowly lost to Hillary Clinton in 2016. The president's campaign is now setting sights on a 2020 Granite State victory, but first he'll have to respond to a field of Democratic challengers who've been blasting his messaging and tying his rhetoric to hateful crimes.

The stakes are high given that the rally also will be the president's first campaign stop since two mass shootings rocked the nation. Amid the fallout, 2020 Democratic candidates bolstered their calls for gun legislation reform as they crisscrossed the early-voting state of Iowa. Democratic contenders are attempting to hold a united front in a state that in February holds the nation's first primary.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks before taking a tour of the Pennsylvania Shell ethylene cracker plant, Aug. 13, 2019, in Monaca, Pa.
President Donald Trump speaks before taking a tour of the Pennsylvania Shell ethylene cracker plant, Aug. 13, 2019, in Monaca, Pa.
Keith Srakocic/AP

In a joint statement ahead of the president's arrival, 21 Democratic campaigns counterpunched Trump, his policies and his "hateful rhetoric" writing that " ... all of us are fighting to defeat Donald Trump and move this country forward. No matter who the Democratic nominee is, we are in this together."

On the heels of that show of unity, hundreds of Democratic activists are expected to protest on the ground in New Hampshire as Trump supporters gather to attend the president's "Make America Great Again" rally. The setting could create a literal faceoff between those who champion the president's rhetoric and those who believe it to have an impact on recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

Amid the tension, much of Thursday's focus will fall on the president and whether he can use his remarks to fit the context of recent tragedies. Meanwhile, Democrats are facing a test of their own -- whether they can harness the power of their party's unity into votes against Trump.

The TIP with Quinn Scanlan

After losing to Republican incumbent Rep. Steve King by just 3 percentage points in Iowa's 4th Congressional District race in 2018, Democrat J.D. Scholten is running again, and his campaign just got a boost from a host of Democratic presidential candidates.

Speaking to the Westside Conservative Club Wednesday, King defended his position that rape and incest shouldn't be exceptions for abortion, suggesting the world as we know it would not exist without them.

"What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled out anyone who was a product of rape or incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?" he said, later adding that he couldn't say he "was not a part of a product of that."

PHOTO: Rep. Steve King speaks during a town hall meeting in Primghar, Iowa, Jan. 26, 2019.
Rep. Steve King speaks during a town hall meeting in Primghar, Iowa, Jan. 26, 2019.
Charlie Neibergall/AP, FILE

While it's not the first time King has made comments that spark outrage from Democrats and Republicans alike, in this instance the 2020 Democratic candidates were quick to urge people to donate to Scholten.

"This is just one more example of why there needs to be a sane representative in that district, and that's why I think J.D. Scholten will be an excellent public servant for the people of that district," Mayor Pete Buttigieg said while campaigning in Iowa.

At least 12 candidates tweeted out their support for Scholten's campaign, with several linking to his ActBlue donation page, urging their followers -- in many cases, millions of them -- to chip in.

The Iowa Republican Party denounced King's comments, and the nine-term congressman is facing what's likely to be a tough primary, with Iowa State Sen. Randy Feenstra, who also denounced the comments, mounting a challenge.


As a presidential candidate, Cory Booker has made environmental protections a central tenet of his social justice platform. As a United States senator, he emerged as a leading voice on the front lines of safe water for urban dwellers. But a growing water-quality crisis gripping Newark, New Jersey, is bringing fresh attention and scrutiny to Booker's own record when he was that city's mayor -- at a time when the water system was marred by scandal. Read more about that here.


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast: Thursday morning's episode features ABC News Chief Business and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis, who explains why financial experts are sounding the alarm over Wednesday's stock market plunge. And James Longman analyzes the Trump administration's response to the Russian nuclear accident and protests in Hong Kong.


  • President Donald Trump hosts a campaign rally on at 7 p.m. in Manchester, New Hampshire.
  • Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, delivers his first major address at 7:15 a.m. MDT after pulling himself from the campaign trail to remain in his native El Paso.
  • Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., hosts a meet and greet at 8:00 CDT in Des Moines, Iowa. Later, he tours a BioDiesel plant in Newton, Iowa, before delivering remarks at the Annual Summer Picnic at 5:30 p.m. in Apple Valley, Minnesota.
  • Former Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., holds a series of campaign events in Iowa City and Des Moines, Iowa, beginning at 11 a.m. CDT.
  • Andrew Yang travels to South Carolina for a day-long tour of the state, with stops at Hilton Head Island and then Bluffton, Okatie and Beaufort, beginning at noon EDT.
  • South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg continues his swing through Iowa with campaign events in Fairfield, Ottumwa and Oskaloosa, starting at noon CDT.
  • Author Marianne Williamson heads to San Francisco for a campaign event at 6 p.m. PST.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., delivers the keynote address at the Naturally Blue Evening, hosted by Democratic Party of Arkansas, at 6 p.m. CDT in Little Rock.
  • Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro participates in a Facebook Live Q&A with members of the Working Families Party at 8 p.m. EDT.
  • Former Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., speaks at the Fearless Fighter Women's Awards Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, at 6 p.m. CDT.
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