Democrat Robert “Beto” O’Rourke drew about 300 students and others to Dartmouth College on Friday to drum up support for his presidential campaign, though reports from the student newspaper make it clear folks were less than enthused.
According to The Dartmouth, “America’s Oldest College Newspaper”:
Before O’Rourke’s entrance, a campaign staffer attempted to excite the crowd by beginning a “Beto” chant. The chant died after a few seconds, and the staffer repeated his attempt five more times.
The lackluster response is in line with state and nationwide polls that show O’Rourke faltering in a primary race with dozens of other Democrats who share many of the same policy positions. The Real Clear Politics average for polls since late April shows O’Rourke in sixth place, behind openly gay South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Despite media fawning over O’Rourke during his failed 2018 bid to unseat Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and millions in funds raised since, the former congressman from El Paso currently only interests about 4.2 percent of likely Democrat voters.
In New Hampshire, he’s even less popular.
“While O’Rourke surged in national popularity during his run for Senate in 2018, his campaign for president has not gained steam. According to a recent Monmouth University poll, two percent of New Hampshire Democratic voters would vote for O’Rourke in the 2020 Democratic primary election,” The Dartmouth reports.
“O’Rourke particularly struggles with women voters. In the poll, one percent of Democratic women voters in New Hampshire would vote for O’Rourke. This marks a decrease from five percent in a University of New Hampshire poll released in February.”
O’Rourke’s speech in Hanover was fairly typical, with the politician sticking to his favorite talking points – Donald Trump bad, equal rights good, America must fix legacy of slavery, increase gun control, save the plant from climate change.
“We have our work cut out for us,” O’Rourke told the crowd. “Let’s make sure that when we’re telling the American story, we’re telling the complete American story.”
For some students, the stump speech was enough to sway their opinion.
“Going in, I thought he was a hollow candidate,” said Aryeh Lande. “But I see a lot of genuineness to him and a good side that wants to change this country, so definitely [my] opinion changed.”
O’Rourke shifted focus this week to make several television appearances as part of a media push to broaden his national profile. O’Rourke’s early presidential campaign focused on hosting more than 100 town hall events in 15 states, and now he’s taking his campaign to prime time.
“I recognize that I can do a better job … of talking to a national audience,” O’Rourke told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Monday, according to NBC News. “I hope that I’m continuing to do better over time. But we have been extraordinarily fortunate with the campaign that we have run so far.”
O’Rourke is expected to follow up the Monday Maddow interview with an appearance on The View on Tuesday and others in the near future, the news site reports.
Meanwhile, O’Rourke is livestreaming everything from a New York fundraiser on Monday to trips to the dentist in a desperate effort to connect with uninterested voters and elevate his profile in the crowded primary.
“It will take a lot of time, a lot of miles. A lot of hours,” O’Rourke told Maddow. “But I’m willing to put in the work. And so far we have, and I’m very pleased with the results.”