The astonishing disappearing act of Beto O’Rourke

When Beto O’Rourke travelled to Yosemite in California to unveil his $5tn plan on climate change, a ripple of surprise crossed America. How did the tall white guy with the funny first name known for his punk past, Beatnik road trips and fondness for campaigning atop counters get to be the first Democratic candidate to proclaim on the crisis of our age?

This wasn’t the O’Rourke that the country had grown used to during his battle with Ted Cruz last November for a US Senate seat. Then, the Texas Democrat had propelled himself to within three percentage points of victory, and with it national stardom, by making viral speeches about NFL players taking a knee and by instilling hope through a feel-good but rather wishy-washy call to unity.

Now here he was framed against the beauty of Yosemite Falls, delivering a granular plan of action worthy of the most nerdish policy wonk. Coming from a politician from oil-rich Texas who has been criticized for his track record on fossil fuels, his proposals for the largest 10-year investment in history and a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 caught many off guard.

“We were pleasantly surprised,” said David Turnbull of the climate advocacy group Oil Change US. “When you see someone like Beto O’Rourke calling for the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies and an end to fossil fuel leasing on public lands – that’s moving in the right direction.”

There was another group of people hoping to be pleasantly surprised by the Yosemite announcement that day – O’Rourke himself and his team of campaign advisers. They have been wrestling with one of the great magical mysteries of the early phase of the 2020 presidential election.

 Read more at The Guardian

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