Beto O’Rourke’s Candidacy Is Already Making Women Uneasy

Beto O’Rourke. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW

After months of speculation, on Thursday morning Beto O’Rourke formally declared that he is running for president in 2020. The former Texas Democratic representative announced in an official video that he promises to run “a positive campaign … to bring out the very best in every single one of us.”

But as charismatic as O’Rourke may be, his candidacy already seems to be drawing anxieties and misgivings from women, for multiple reasons. One of those has to do with the announcement video itself, in which his wife, Amy, sits beside him on a couch, doing not much more than simply gazing at him in a show of support.

But another big reason is that O’Rourke’s candidacy appears to highlight, among other things, the contradiction between the way male and female candidates are treated and covered by media.

People have noted, in particular, an exchange between O’Rourke and his son that appeared in a Vanity Fair profile published a day before his announcement that’s raising some questions over the way fatherhood might be covered in media during a presidential campaign, versus how motherhood is covered. Some seemed to speculate that a mother would have received a lot more criticism if she ran for president after having a discussion like this with her child.

That is of course, not to mention the stark contrast between the ways the media has presented O’Rourke’s persona as charming and magnetic and the ways some of those same outlets have covered Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy, which often focus on doubts about her “likability.”

All in all, the issue isn’t necessarily O’Rourke himself — but the systems that lift him up while at the same time, not allowing women that same support. His solo road trip through rural America, for example, which preceded his announcement, has been called out as a privilege that only a male candidate could have without vast amounts of blowback.

Either way, 2020 is shaping up to be an interesting (and crowded) race.

Beto O’Rourke’s Candidacy Is Already Making Women Uneasy