We Have Entered the 'Campaign Reboot' Phase of 2020

Illustration for article titled We Have Entered the Campaign Reboot Phase of 2020
Photo: Will Weissert (AP)

The 2020 campaign season is already shaping up to be the longest ever. Hillary Clinton announced her doomed campaign for the presidency on April 12, 2015; by that point in this year’s contest, we had about 18 candidates and were just waiting for Joe Biden to throw his hat in the ring.


Because the cycle is starting sooner and sooner, so too are all of the dumb things that happen during the cycle. One of those dumb things are “campaign reboots,” which is what candidates do when they start to realize that this whole “running for president” thing might not work out the way they intended. Last week, there were rumblings of a campaign “reset” coming from Sen. Kamala Harris, who has consistently polled in the upper tier of the field but still lags behind Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

Apparently, she isn’t the only one rethinking things.

Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign has lagged sorely in recent weeks as South Bend, IN, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Biden have gained some momentum. You might surmise that this is because Beto’s approach has so far largely consisted of standing on tables and speaking in platitudes, but regardless, according to a report from the Associated Press over the weekend, Beto’s campaign is ready to hit the redo button.


What does that redo button entail, you ask? From the AP:

O’Rourke plans to step up his national media appearances after skipping most of that kind of exposure in recent months. He is scheduled to appear on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” on Monday night and ABC’s “The View” the next day.

He’s also set to offer more concrete policy plans on top issues. So far, he’s issued just one, on climate change.

So, getting his face on television and giving a hint as to what he would want to accomplish if he’s elected president, aka the things you’re supposed to do at the start of the campaign. When you’re Beto, however, the first step is not outlining a vision for your government, but onto the nearest table.

The AP report follows the exit of two key O’Rourke staffers in April. BuzzFeed News reported then that Becky Bond—a senior adviser to the Sanders 2016 campaign who later worked on O’Rourke’s long-shot campaign for Senate and was credited with helping his superb ground game—had left the campaign, as had her deputy Zack Malitz.


If you think this means that Beto’s changing, however, you’ve got another thing coming, you idiot. You imbecile! You fucking moron!!! Per the AP:

His top aides deny that a full reinvention or “Beto 2.0” is in the works. They note that O’Rourke plans to keep packing days with as many as half a dozen campaign events. He’ll still venture into off-the-beaten path locales that include rural, heavily Republican areas. Those were the trademarks of his Senate campaign last fall, when he nearly toppled Republican Sen. Ted Cruz by visiting all of deep-red Texas’ 254 counties.


Beto’s style simply cannot be cramped, despite what even his staffers apparently think:

One holdover from O’Rourke’s do-it-yourself style in Texas is his insistence on driving himself between events, repeatedly climbing behind the wheel of rented Dodge Grand Caravans. Some campaign staffers see it as time that could be spent doing more productive — or at least less potentially dangerous — things, but O’Rourke’s unfazed.

“I can’t just sit and ride,” he’s said by way of explanation. “I’ve got to be doing something.”


As an expert Beto O’Rourke impersonator once said: “Hard to go for runs when you’re running.” If running for president doesn’t work out, though, we have a pretty good idea of what Beto could run for instead.

News editor, Splinter

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