- Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke recently told Vanity Fair that he never prepares or writes down what he’ll say in advance before a campaign event.
- His unconventional approach to campaigning helped turn the once little-known Texas congressman into a serious challenger to Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, a race O’Rourke lost by 2.6 percentage points.
- Several viral videos of O’Rourke speaking off-the-cuff helped him gain traction. He also extensively live-streamed large parts of his days on the campaign trail as a unique way of connecting with voters.
Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke is running for president in 2020 – and he has one of the most unconventional styles of campaigning, telling Vanity Fair for a recent profile that he never prepares what he’ll say in advance before a campaign event.
“I don’t ever prepare a speech…I don’t write out what I’m going to say. I remember driving to that, I was, like, ‘What do I say? Maybe I’ll just introduce myself. I’ll take questions,” he said of the third campaign stop in Houston during his 2018 Senate campaign against Ted Cruz.
His wife, Amy O’Rourke, described that event as the moment she realised her husband could be on the verge of breaking out into a political superstar.
“Every seat was taken, every wall, every space in the room was filled with probably a thousand people,” she told Vanity Fair. “It was not totally clear that Beto was what everybody was looking for, but just like that people were so ready for something.”
“Every word was pulled out of me. Like, by some greater force, which was just the people there,” O’Rourke remembered. “Everything that I said, I was, like, watching myself, being like, How am I saying this stuff? Where is this coming from?”
During his Senate campaign, O’Rourke’s off-the-cuff public speaking abilities helped him stand out. A video of him giving a detailed and passionate defence of professional athletes kneeling for the national anthem turned into a viral sensation, gaining millions of views across the internet.
He also extensively live-streamed large parts of his day on the campaign trail, including driving from stop to stop and skateboarding in a Whataburger parking lot, as a unique way of connecting with voters.
O’Rourke ran what he described as a “purist” Senate campaign, taking no PAC money, airing no negative aids, and not even hiring pollsters or professional strategists – a model he intends to replicate at least in part for his presidential campaign.
It may be a brilliant strategy,” O’Rourke told the magazine of his conventional approach. “It may be an incredibly stupid strategy.”
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