Beto O’Rourke Weighs Presidential Campaign From an Unusual Position: Front-Runner

“His fundamental strength is authenticity,” said David Axelrod, the strategist for former President Obama’s campaigns.

.. “If he ran for president, it would be much different,” said Steve Ortega, a longtime O’Rourke friend who in 2005 was elected with him to the El Paso City Council. “He’s not going to take anyone by surprise. He’s no longer the insurgent. He’s one of the front-runners. It’s a different deal.”

.. Mr. O’Rourke’s longtime critics in El Paso say he’s created an image that doesn’t comport with reality. “He is a master of crafting a political narrative,” said David Dorado Romo, an El Paso historian who has long clashed with Mr. O’Rourke on local development issues. “What he says and what he does are two very different things.”

Still, despite the enthusiasm for him in Democratic circles, Mr. O’Rourke has never been a strict party loyalist.

.. O’Rourke spokesman Chris Evans said the former congressman’s penchant for holding multiple town hall-style events each day required him to be fluent on any issue a voter would ask about and would translate to a national contest. “That style opens you up to having to know about all the issues and where you stand and what your point of view is on them,” Mr. Evans said.
.. “I’m not an expert in Democrat politics but I can tell you he has what they want,” said Jeff Roe, Mr. Cruz’s GOP campaign manager in the 2018 Senate race. “He’s the anti-Trump.”