Beto O’Rourke said Tuesday he will decide whether to run for president by the end of the month, signaling his closely watched deliberations over a 2020 run are entering their final stages.
The former Democratic congressman from El Paso and U.S. Senate nominee made the comment during an interview with media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who pressed him on his long-awaited decision — and whether he’s given himself a deadline.
“The serious answer is really soon,” O’Rourke replied. “Before the end of this month.”
The topic of his presidential ambitions came up repeatedly during the interview, and even his acknowledgment that he was thinking about running drew long applause from the audience inside Times Square’s PlayStation Theater. He went on to say that he was so “so excited at the prospect of being able to play that role” — a presidential candidate — but made clear he is still grappling with the potential toll on his family.
“For me, it will really be family” that determines the final decision, said O’Rourke, who has a wife and three young kids.
O’Rourke’s interview with Winfrey was taped Tuesday afternoon in New York City. Their talk was was one of several Winfrey recorded as part of her “SuperSoul Conservations from Times Square,” which were also set to include interviews with actors Bradley Cooper and Michael B. Jordan; philanthropist Melinda Gates; and Lisa Borders, president and CEO of Time’s Up, a group focused on women’s safety, equity and power at work.
The O’Rourke interview will air at 7 p.m. Feb. 16 on Winfrey’s OWN TV network. It will also be available on her “SuperSoul Conservations” podcast.
Winfrey tried several times to nail O’Rourke down on his 2020 decision to no avail. In a parting message, she said, “You seem like you’re getting ready to run.”
In the interview, O’Rourke also reflected on the lessons of his Senate campaign last year and the meeting he had with former President Barack Obama in the wake of the race. O’Rourke said Obama did not encourage him to run for president but that they discussed 2020 more generally — and the strain a White House bid can put on a family.
“He said, ‘Look, just to be really clear, this is one of the most intense’ experiences one can go through, ‘and so know that going into this,'” O’Rourke recalled.
It was during his recollection of the Obama conversation that O’Rourke paused to take in the meteoric rise in attention he’s received over the past two years.
“It’s hard to believe that I’m saying I met with Barack Obama — and I’m saying it to Oprah Winfrey,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke has received wide encouragement to run for president since his closer-than-expected loss to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in November. As the 2020 race has gotten underway, though, O’Rourke has taken his time and eschewed conventional preparations for a White House bid. Instead, he recently took a solo road trip outside Texas and published a series of pensive blog posts about the experience.