Breaking months of near-silence about his political future, Democrat Beto O'Rourke said Tuesday that he would announce his decision about a 2020 presidential run "before the end of the month" and suggested he's leaning toward it, the AP reports. The former Texas congressman, who found political stardom in his unsuccessful Senate bid last fall, opened up about a potential 2020 run in a conversation with a bigger star, Oprah Winfrey, during a taping of her program Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations from Times Square. "I have been thinking about running for president," O'Rourke told Winfrey as the packed audience cheered. The 46-year-old Democrat cited his desire to help unify the country. "I'm so excited at the prospect of being able to play that role."
O'Rourke dazzled Democrats last year by nearly defeating Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in the country's largest red state. In recent weeks, however, his presidential prospects have been overshadowed by the generally well-received 2020 campaign launches of Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Cory Booker of New Jersey. His comments Tuesday offered a powerful reminder that the Democratic field is far from set. Winfrey, who has flirted with a potential run of her own, appeared to encourage O'Rourke to run during the wide-ranging interview that spanned nearly an hour. The decision, O'Rourke said, would really be up to his family. He has three children under the age of 13. Though the taping was Tuesday, the interview won't air on Winfrey's network until Feb. 16. (Beto's already got one high-profile endorsement.)