on State of the Union Sunday, host Dana Bash asked O’Rourke if he would like Biden to campaign for him, noting that his Texas approval rating is just 35 percent — lower than his national approval.
“This Texas campaign isn’t about Joe Biden. It’s not about” Donald Trump. It’s not about anyone from outside our state,” he said. “This is about the people of Texas and what the people of Texas want.”
When spurred on by Bash, he switched to his campaign platform, noting that he believes Texans are focused on things like jobs, education, health care and competence in state government. But he didn’t say whether he wanted Biden to campaign for him.
Bash followed him up and asked, “Does that mean you’d rather he didn’t come, based on what you just said?”
“It means I’m focused on Texas and my fellow Texans. Those are the people who matter most to me,” he said. “There is no politician – there is no other person from outside this state who can help change the course of this election for better or for worse.”
O’Rourke was a supporter of Biden. He backed the then-candidate in March 2020, months after ending his own campaign.
In recent months, Biden’s valuation — high at the start of his tenure — has fallen as he has faced a host of crises, including a heavily controlled withdrawal from Afghanistan, soaring inflation and gas prices, and a stalled legislative agenda.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday found that: 36 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s job performance, with 53 percent disapproving of it. The poll found that Biden received his lowest approval in several key areas, including managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
O’Rourke ran for US Senate in Texas earlier in 2018, challenging the Republican Ted Cruz. Although he eventually lost by 2.6 points, democrats praised his campaign for making significant gains in the state, previously considered solidly conservative.
Democrats have made gains in the state in recent elections, mainly around major cities, including Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio.
O’Rourke previously worked in the US Congress, which represented Texas’s 16th district from 2013 to 2019.
Many Democrats see him as a strong candidate against Abbott, who has come under increasing criticism for his reproductive rights policies and handling the pandemic. Some polls indicate that the race can be tight, while others show Abbott with a broader leader.
In the first 24 hours of his campaign announcement, O’Rourke $2 million raised, which his campaign said was the record for any Democratic governor candidate in the first 24 hours.
news week reached out to O’Rourke’s campaign Sunday morning for comment, but had heard nothing upon publication. This story will be updated with any comments.