Don’t count Beto out just yet

I guess the preliminary verdict is in regarding the first of two Democratic Party presidential primary debates. Texan Beto O’Rourke might have suffered the most serious wounds from the encounter.

I agree that O’Rourke, the former congressman from El Paso, didn’t sound sharp. He got caught flat-footed when former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro went after him over immigration reform; then we had that strange Spanish riff that seemed a bit gimmicky to many listeners’ ears.

However, I am not going to sound the death knell over O’Rourke’s candidacy. That might come, just not quite yet.

O’Rourke appears to be learning how to campaign nationally as he goes along. He ran for the U.S. Senate in Texas without employing any pollsters, or much of a professional campaign staff — and he still came within a whisker of knocking Ted Cruz out of office in 2018.

That first debate did produce some highlights for several candidates: Castro, Hawaii U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New York Mayor Bill DiBlasio, New Jersey U.S. Sen. Cory Booker all scored well.

Beto? He took some body punches. Some of his wounds were self-inflicted.

Remember this: The campaign is just getting started. The candidates have a long way to go. It’s no time for Beto to bail.

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