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Progressive Columnist Says ‘Beto’ O’Rourke’s Chances Against Trump Are ‘Overstated’

Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, who lost a Texas Senate race by more than 200,000 votes, is the talk of the Democratic Party. Some leaders even think he should run for president in 2020 (despite his crushing loss to Sen. Ted Cruz).

But Elizabeth Breuning, a progressive columnist who writes regularly for The Washington Post, says she doesn’t think that’s such a great idea, noting that the prevailing notion now that he could defeat President Trump has been “overstated.”

Bruening said Democrats did hang on to some Senate seats in states that helped put Trump in office in 2016. “You look at the midterms, a lot of Obama, Trump voters went back blue again,” Breuning told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball.

But that doesn’t mean someone like O’Rourke can knock off Trump.

“I actually don’t think that Beto’s the only way that you can win against Trump — I think a lot of that’s overstated,” she told Hill.TV.

The columnist criticized the Texas congressman’s stance on issues that were a hallmark of Democratic messaging during the midterm elections, like his position on Medicare for all, saying he remained “unspecific” throughout his Senate campaign.

“He uses language like single-payer, or universal coverage but it’s pretty indistinct what he actually means by that,” Breuning said.

She also called O’Rourke’s record on progressive issues like free college and free public tuition, both of which have gained more mainstream Democratic support, “pretty unremarkable.”

Breuning also said in a column for The Post that O’Rourke lacked “uncompromising progressive principles,” during an era that demands a “left-populist candidate.”

O’Rourke has leaped to the top of the 2020 polls, or at least a new straw poll by a progressive group. The sudden surge by O’Rourke came in a straw poll of members of MoveOn.org, first obtained by NBC News. The survey puts the Texas congressman at 15.6%, with former vice president Joe Biden close behind at 14.9%. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) came in third at 13.1%.

“It’s another sign of O’Rourke’s surprising popularity among national Democrats and a potentially troubling indication for Sanders, whom MoveOn endorsed in the 2016 Democratic primary. That year, 78 percent of MoveOn members voted to back Sanders over Hillary Clinton,” NBC reported.

“Forces loyal to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are waging an increasingly public war against Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the new darling of Democratic activists, as the two men weigh whether to seek the party’s presidential nomination in 2020,” NBC News said.

The main line of attack against O’Rourke is that he isn’t progressive enough — that he’s been too close to Republicans in Congress, too close to corporate donors and not willing enough to use his star power to help fellow Democrats — and it is being pushed almost exclusively by Sanders supporters online and in print.

It’s been the first flashpoint in what promises to be a politically bloody primary — one that has drawn responses from foot soldiers in the Obama and Clinton wings of the party — as Democrats begin to focus on who has the best chance to deny President Donald Trump a second term in the Oval Office.

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