Former President Barack Obama paid failed Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke the ultimate compliment: Comparison to himself.
Mr. Obama was reacting to a report that a top Democratic bundler had said of the Texan that “he’s Barack Obama, but white.”
In the interview for “The Axe Files,” the CNN podcast of his former top strategist David Axelrod, Mr. Obama did not deny the comparison and went on to elaborate on the reasons.
“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,” Mr. Obama said, telling his former aide that Mr. O’Rourke is one of several potential 2020 Democratic candidates like that.
“We’ve got a number of people who are thinking about the race who I think fall in that same category,” said Mr. Obama, who also described Mr. O’Rourke as an “impressive young man.”
The former president also said that such Obamaesque authenticity is rare.
“It felt as if he based his statements and his positions on what he believed,” Mr. Obama said. “And that, you’d like to think, is normally how things work. Sadly it’s not.”
Mr. O’Rourke fell short in his effort to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, losing by 3 percentage points, albeit in one of the nation’s most-conservative states.
Mr. O’Rourke said before the Senate election earlier this month that he would not run in 2020, but has been cagier in his phrasing in recent days, telling TMZ on Friday that he hadn’t decided.