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A MSNBC midday host mused on-air whether former congressman Beto O’Rourke would see a bump in his polls as a result of the media blitz he’s experienced in recent days as a result of Saturday’s mass shooting in O’Rourke’s native El Paso, Texas.
O’Rourke, who became a national political star last year for nearly defeating GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, has largely struggled more recently as one of the two dozen Democrats running for president.
A gunman opened fire at an El Paso Walmart store, killing 22 and injuring 24 others. The attacker posted online a racist screed mimicking much of Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. That mass murder was followed hours later by a second, apparently unrelated mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio.
Since then, O’Rourke has been a fixture on TV coverage of the tragedy, including being outspoken in telling Trump not to visit El Paso in response to the murders.
MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle asked whether, perversely, the attention over the shooting could boost O’Rourke’s profile.
“Maria, Beto has said he is running in the name of decency and democracy. As bad as this may sound, could this moment be a chance for Beto to gain some momentum?” Ruhle queried.
Maria Theresa Kumar, a political activist and head of the Latino political organization Voto Latino, replied, “I think so. I mean, when you look at who the president is most afraid of, you often hear within inner circles that Beto is the one that concerns him. And it’s not only because he was able to capture the imagination of progressive Texas, he got over 500,000 Republicans to vote for him and he got a lot of independents to vote for him. Let’s not forget Obama lost Texas by 16 points, four years later Hillary lost 9 and two years later Beto lost by a merely two.
“And it’s significant because right now Arizona just went purple. That’s 11 electoral votes. Texas has 38 electoral votes,” Kumar added.