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Democratic rising star Beto O'Rourke announces White House run

AFP  |  Washington 

Beto O'Rourke, a former punk rocker feted as one of the Democratic Party's rising stars, announced Thursday he is running for -- joining a crowded field of candidates vying to challenge in 2020.

"The only way for us to live up to the promise of is to give it our all and to give it for all of us," O'Rourke, 46, said in a video, filmed alongside his wife in their El Paso, home.

O'has been discussed as a potential frontrunner since dazzling the grassroots during an unexpectedly tight race last year to unseat Republican Senator Ted Cruz, his charismatic stump performances and message of inclusion turning heads in

On Thursday morning, he was already taking questions from voters in Keokuk, -- following in the footsteps of other Democrats keen to raise their profiles in the state that will vote before any other in the 2020 primary process.

He has vowed to run a positive campaign that would seek to "bring out the very best from every single one of us" and unite a country riven by political, social and cultural fissures.

"You can probably tell that I want to run," he told in this month's cover story, featuring a photography spread by

In the article, published before his official announcement, O'acknowledged his ambition for the top job -- although he stopped short of confirming his run.

"Man, I'm just born to be in it, and want to do everything I humanly can for this country at this moment," he said.

O'has entered a pool of 14 other Democrats seeking to oust Trump.

They include several US senators -- Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and the leader among current candidates, liberal

The last main piece of the 2020 election puzzle on the Democrats' side is former vice Joe Biden, who has said he will reveal his political plans soon.

To one Iowan's question on running alongside so many other Democrats, said it was "critically important that we not denigrate, demean any other candidate."

"Any single Democrat running today... would be far better than the current occupant of the White House," he said to applause.

O'Rourke, a in the moderately successful El Paso band who became known for going to blow off steam on the campaign trail, has been tipped to quickly achieve rockstar status.

But that will come with intensifying scrutiny from the media, Democratic power brokers and donors, as well as voters.

As a three-term congressman, was more politically cautious, joining the House's centrist, pro-business

But in his run, he ran an unconventional campaign, espousing progressive positions on immigration and health care, while traveling to every county in strongly Republican Texas in a bid to heal political divisions.

In Thursday's announcement he broadened his political vision with promises to prioritize criminal justice reform and tackle climate change.

On immigration -- one of the most divisive issues of Trump's presidency -- called for legal paths for immigrants "to work, to be with family and to flee persecution."

His native El Paso, which borders Mexico's Ciudad Juarez, was recently visited by the for a rally filled with dire warnings about Mexican criminals and calls for bigger and longer border walls.

"All of us, wherever you live, can acknowledge that if immigration is a problem it's the best possible problem for this country to have," O'Rourke insisted.

O'Rourke's 2018 campaign was time-consuming and he signaled that he felt disconnected from family as a result.

"My family hasn't seen me," he told in February. "I haven't been there for them."

His disappointment about his narrow defeat was clear when he embarked on a low-key road trip and blogged about the experience, writing on January 16 that he has been "in and out of a funk." But it also showed a candidate appearing to enjoy himself.

He could be seen between events. He jammed onstage with country music legend Willie Nelson, and pledged to "listen to everyone, regardless of the differences."

In a new documentary on his improbable campaign, "Running with Beto," the rising star offered sage advice for candidates like himself: "Run like there's nothing to lose.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, March 14 2019. 20:21 IST