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Beto 2020? O'Rourke Says He's 'Honored' by President Obama’s Comparison: 'That's Cool'

Beto O’Rourke said he is “honored” that former President Barack Obama compared himself to the Texas Democrat amid speculation of a 2020 run for the presidency. Obama called the Senate candidate “impressive” and hailed his sincerity and authenticity.

“I think that’s cool that he said that and, look, I’m honored that he’s taking any notice at all,” O’Rourke told TMZ as he walked through the terminal at Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C.

In an interview with David Axelrod on CNN's The Axe Files, Obama said he could see himself in O’Rourke, who narrowly lost the Texas Senate seat race to Republican incumbent Ted Cruz in a result that was much closer than many expected.

Obama called O’Rourke “impressive” and said he ran a “terrific” race in Texas. "It felt as if he based his statements and his positions on what he believed," Obama said. "And that, you'd like to think, is normally how things work. Sadly, it's not."

Obama, who served from 2009 to 2017, said that he liked O’Rourke’s authenticity most of all and that the campaign “didn't feel constantly poll-tested."

"The reason I was able to make a connection with a sizable portion of the country was because people had a sense that I said what I meant," Obama said. "What I oftentimes am looking for first and foremost is, Do you seem to mean it?"

Obama said he saw this quality in O’Rourke but also noted that “there are others” he considered strong candidates for the Democratic nomination in 2020. "We've got a number of people who are thinking about the race who fall in that same category,” he said.

Talking to TMZ, O’Rourke said he had never considered running for president. “No, not something I ever really thought about,” the El Paso representative said. “I dreamed about being in the Beatles when I was a kid.”

He added, “I want to be helpful in whatever way I can to make sure that this country lives up to its promise. I don’t know what capacity that would be in.”

O’Rourke did not rule out running in 2020 but said he is “not planning to and just focusing on family right now.”

During the midterm elections, Obama did not endorse O’Rourke in his race against Cruz. Obama did not want to cause problems for candidates in red states such as Texas by providing his endorsement.  

At the time, O’Rourke said his campaign was not interested in an endorsement by Obama but also noted that “I am so grateful to him for his service. He’s going to go down as one of the greatest presidents.”

Trump won Texas by 9 points in 2016, and the state's voters haven't elected a Democrat to statewide office in a quarter of a century. Despite this, O’Rourke posed a serious threat to Cruz, who won by 50.93 percent to O’Rourke’s 48.29 percent.

beto, trump, o'rourke, 2020, democrats, republicans U.S. Representative Beto O'Rourke gives his concession speech during an election night party at Southwest University Park in downtown El Paso, Texas, on November 6. PAUL RATJE/AFP/Getty Images

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