B here's Rourke putting a new emphasis on seizure of assault weapons and taking a freer, more aggressive campaign style to return to relevancy, even if it creates responsibility for others Democrats.
"Hell, we'll take your AR-15, your AK-47, we won't let it be used to other Americans anymore," said 46-year-old Rourke during a Democratic Thursday presidential debate in Houston .
The candidate, trapped in the low single digits, often cites a mass shooting in early August that left 22 dead in El Paso's hometown.
Rourke has long resisted calls for the confiscation of AR-1
"I think he really saw himself fall into the ballot box and had to do something to get back in the mix," Democratic strategist and pollster Brad Bannon told the Washington Examiner .
With enough attention following his unsuccessful 2018 Senate bid challenging Republican Senator Ted Cruz, O & # 39; Rourke raised a whopping $ 6.1 million in the first 24 hours of launching his presidential campaign in March. He gained 9.5% support in RealClearPolitics mid-level Democratic primary polls in early April, third behind Vermont's northern Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden.
However, early enthusiasm for Rourke died quickly. It raised just $ 3.6 million from April to June and gained about 3% support in recent surveys.
"It almost seemed to me that he was just saying, 'OK, I'm just going to let him fly, I'm not registering at all, so I just won't be careful anymore,'" Bannon said of the debatable performance of O & # 39; Rourke. "And that led to a very impressive moment."
O & # 39; Rourke's forfeiture of weapons could come at the expense of alienating some of his party and threatening other Democrats in 2020.
"Honestly, I think the video will be played for years at second rallies with organizations trying to scare people by saying: Democrats come for their weapons," a Delaware North American spokesman said on Friday Chris Koons. "I don't think our presidential candidates like Congressman O & # 39; Rourke, saying that trying to get people's weapons against their will is a wise or political or political move. "
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Butigig, who is also seeking a Democratic nomination for president, agreed. that Rourke's comment can play into the hands of Republicans.
"When even this president and even Mitch McConnell at least pretend to be open to reform, we know that we have a moment in our hands. Let's make the most of them and do these things, "Butigigig told CNN on Sunday.
In an obvious answer to Buttigieg, O & # 39; Rourke adheres to his new platform and style. "Well, damn it, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump pretend to be interested in something that is literally a problem for the lives or deaths of 40,000 Americans – that's how many killed each year through gun violence – it's just not enough," O "Rourke said on Sunday.
Some signs indicate that O 'Rourke's new behavior and debate is helping to bring him back to relevancy.
Former congressman in Texas noted 6% an increase in cable news that mentioned the week of the debate compared to a week ago and he saw n the biggest post-debate increase in the net favorability of each candidate (23.9% to 32.5%), according to a FiveThirtyEight / Ipsos poll. O & # 39; Rourke's campaign said it saw its largest this quarter's fundraising hour during the debate.
"At least it brought him back to the conversation," Banon said, adding that O & # 39; Rourke's tone "could give him an opening to be more Biggest player in the race. "
O" Rourke won praise from other candidates on the debate stage for his response to the El Paso shooting. "Beta, God love you because you stand so boldly in the midst of this tragedy," said California Senator Kamala Harris.
However, the new approach may be too small, too late. Bannon said he would have served O 'Rourke better months earlier in his campaign: "He did not seize the opportunity he had when he first announced,"