Beto O'Rourke Reveals Barack Obama's Advice for a Potential Run For The White House

Soon to announce his presidential run, Beto O'Rourke spoke about the advice Barack Obama gave him shortly after O'Rourke's Senate loss to Ted Cruz.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, O'Rourke said that he met with Obama in Washington the week after Senator Ted Cruz won re-election in November. During the meeting, O'Rourke told the former president that he was mulling over a presidential run.

Obama responded by asking O'Rourke to consider the impact of running a campaign on his family, and what he would do for the country if he got elected.

"I raised it with him— 'Some people who I really respect have asked me to think about running for president,'" O'Rourke said. "He asked about: What will this do to my family? Is this the right thing for the country? Do I see a path to win? Do I see something that I uniquely can provide, for what the country needs right now?"

O'Rourke, a 46-year-old member of Generation X, said he believed his ability to listen and learn from those across the political aisle set him apart from the other candidates.

"If I bring something to this. I think it is my ability to listen to people, to help bring people together to do something that is thought to be impossible. My sense is, following some success that I had in Congress, and working with Republicans to actually get things signed into law, including both President Obama and President [Donald] Trump's administrations, that I may have an ability to work with people who think differently than I do, come to a different conclusion that I've come to on a given issue, and yet find enough common ground to do something better than what we have right now," O'Rourke said.

O'Rourke lists climate change as one of the most important issues facing the world, and called Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal "ambitious."

"The goal of converting to 100 percent renewable energy within a decade, I love," O'Rourke said. "It's ambitious. It captures your imagination."

During their November meeting, Obama challenged O'Rourke about what his path would be to the White House, asking if he could win key states like Texas and Michigan. According to O'Rourke, no one on his team was counting delegates. relying on feelings and hard work rather than hard numbers.

"Almost no one thought there was a path in Texas, and I just knew it. I just felt it. I knew it was there, and I knew that with enough work and enough creativity and enough amazing people, if I'm able to meet them and bring them in, then we can do it," O'Rourke said. "That's how I feel about this. It's probably not the most professional thing you've ever heard about this, but I just feel it."

In the interview, O'Rourke also spoke of an impression left by Senator Bernie Sanders during his 2016 presidential campaign. At the time, Sanders had angered leaders in the Democratic Party for holding back delegates that could have been given to Hillary Clinton.

"He said it's not enough to remind America how bad Donald Trump is, it's just not going to do it. You've got to give people something to be for, it cannot be who we are against," O'Rourke said. "I think he was so prescient. That moment sticks out to me so much, because it was so dramatic. He was so hated really—it's not too strong of a word—when he was in there, and he said the most important thing that I'd heard during that entire campaign."

O'Rourke added that it was important to beat Trump in the election, but that it wasn't the only motivating factor on if he will run to replace the president.

"I just don't get turned on by being against. I really get excited to be for. That's what moves me. It's important to defeat Trump, but that's not exciting to me. What's exciting to me is for the United States to lead the world, in making sure that the generations that follow us can live here," he said. "What's exciting to me is figuring out something that has eluded us for so long: How do we make sure every single person can see a doctor in this country? That's really exciting to me."

Beto O'Rourke gun reform law 2020
Former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke speaks to a crowd of marchers during the anti-Trump March for Truth in El Paso,on February 11. O'Rourke praised the U.S. House for passing a gun reform bill, making a point of including the eight Republicans who voted for it. PAUL RATJE/AFP/Getty Images