Fizzling: Beto's Iowa City Rally Was so Bad a Student Standing Next to Him at a Bathroom Sink Didn't Recognize Him

Beto O'Rourke speaks in Iowa City, Iowa. 4/7/19. Screen grab via The Hill.
Beto O'Rourke in Iowa City, IA.
2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke (D) speaks in Iowa City, IA 4/7/19. Screen grab via The Hill.

It’s been almost a month since Beto O’Rourke declared his candidacy for president. While his fundraising numbers have been good, his campaign has faced a lot of hiccups along the way so far.


Has O’Rourke’s goofiness/weirdness and lack of a coherent campaign strategy started to turn off primary voters? A sparsely attended Sunday rally in Iowa City may hold some clues:

O’Rourke, 46, a former Texas congressman, started 30 minutes late, and the University of Iowa student union ballroom remained less than half filled as the candidate gave his pitch to fewer than 120 students, families, and retirees before taking questions. Many of those were not committed to O’Rourke.


Some high school students appeared to have ulterior motives for being there. Julian Wallace, 18, was clad in O’Rourke garb but told the Examiner that he was only wearing it as proof for an extra-credit assignment. His friend Aaron, 17, seemed to be sizing up the competition for his preferred candidate, saying he thought O’Rourke lacked the “big ideas” of former tech executive Andrew Yang.

One student who attended the rally recounted on Twitter his experience of meeting O’Rourke in the bathroom prior to the event – and noted that he didn’t even recognize the former El Paso Congressman:


“I was in the bathroom, minding my own business and I was washing my hands,” said Matthew Rowland, a University of Iowa student. “And this guy asked me how it was going, and I said good, ‘How’s it going,’ going for some small talk.

Rowland asked, “Are you here to see Beto?”

He said Beto O’Rourke looked up at him with a grin and said, “That’s me.”

“Stranger”? Ouch. Were the lights low in the bathroom?

Here’s video from the rally when O’Rourke first took the stage. AC/DC’s “Back in Black” played in the background.

He only got a temporary boost in polling numbers after his campaign launch last month, and his biggest competition in the state appears to be coming from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) – both in fundraising and crowd numbers.


O’Rourke’s next stop on the campaign trail will be South Carolina.

RELATED: 5 Ways Beto Will Be Turned into the 2020 Version of Barack Obama

Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter.–


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