Beto O’Rourke Meets Barack Obama, But Is His 2020 Ambition To Become President Or Joe Biden’s VP?

Beto O’Rourke met with former President Barack Obama in his Washington D.C. offices this November, just four days before Obama publicly commented that O’Rourke was a “very impressive young man” who reminded him of himself. The meeting and subsequent comments fueled speculation that O’Rourke is preparing for a 2020 presidential run. 

Less than two weeks after the meeting, former Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer penned an opinion piece comparing Obama and O’Rourke, making the case for the latter's potential ascent to the Democratic nomination. “I have never seen a Senate candidate—including Obama in 2004—inspire the sort of enthusiasm that Beto did in his race,” he wrote, further fueling speculation.

The Washington Post first reported details of the meeting between O’Rourke and Obama on Tuesday, more than three weeks after it took place, and the same day former Vice President Joe Biden called himself “the most qualified person in the country” to be president. Both Obama’s office and O’Rourke’s office declined to comment on the details of the meeting to Newsweek and to the Post

In a Democratic primary, there isn’t much risk of that. “I don’t see how it hurts to meet with Obama, he’s still the most popular figure in the Democratic party,” Republican strategist Ford O’Connell told Newsweek. “He’s still the leader of the Democratic party as long as Trump is in the White House.”

O’Connell, however, isn’t so sure that Obama was meeting with O’Rourke to discuss the presidency. He thinks Obama had another position in mind.

“Obama could have the biggest sway in helping him become vice president," said O'Connell. "O’Rourke is much more likely to be in the parlor game for vice president.” 

News of Obama’s meeting with Tallahassee mayor and failed Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum only fuels O’Connell’s suspicions. “Obama is looking for fresh faces to balance out Joe Biden. He’s doing some legwork for the vice president side, rather than letting horses run on the presidential side.”

Read more from Nicole Goodkind at Newsweek

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