The former US House Representative from El Paso took the country by storm when he nearly upset incumbent Ted Cruz in last November’s Texas Senate race. Even though he narrowly lost that election, O’Rourke used the fame he gained to jumpstart his bid to beat Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
O’Rourke had plenty of momentum going into the early days of the campaign. However, a series of missteps put O’Rourke’s views of women into the spotlight, causing him to re-evaluate his campaign strategy. Starting on Friday, Amy will begin appearing alongside her husband and speaking at joint events. She will also be available to take pictures and interact with supporters.
The rare appearance by Amy signifies a shift in the O’Rourke campaign strategy. The shift has come on the heels of criticism of O’Rourke and his attitudes toward women. The criticism began when Amy appeared silently at his side during the initial campaign launch video. Shortly after, O’Rourke joked about being a part-time parent as his wife held down the fort at home. These comments did not endear him to progressive women voters.
The shift in perception of O’Rourke is stark when compared to the fact that it was support from women that helped propel him onto the national scene after almost pulling the upset of Cruz. The congressman won 52 percent of the 2018 female vote in Texas compared to only 48 percent for Cruz. This is significant in a state that has been a historic Republican stronghold.
Aides say that the 37-year-old teacher and school administrator can prove to be an invaluable voice in the campaign. While Amy has largely stayed out of the media spotlight until now, she has been working diligently behind the scenes. Campaign officials say that Amy has advised on a number of policy issues and provided input into a variety of schedules and proposals that are integral to O’Rourke’s bid for president.
How her active presence on the campaign trail affects the perception of women will be something to keep an eye on as the candidates race toward the primary season.