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It Sure Looks Like Beto O'Rourke Is Headed for Des Moines

Beto O'Rourke is still making the rounds, listening.
Beto O'Rourke is still making the rounds, listening.
Melissa Hennings

Apologies in advance, but we're going to have to take another long look at Beto O'Rourke's Medium blog.

Late Wednesday afternoon, O'Rourke took to the blogging platform with another journal entry right out of a graduate creative writing workshop — Doesn't the University of Iowa have one of those? — detailing the beginning of what appears to be a solo drive from the former U.S. representative's home in El Paso through the Southern Plains.

In his posts, O'Rourke writes of seeking out his grandparents' old home in Tucumcari, New Mexico, eating a green chile cheeseburger at The Grill in Dalhart and visiting college kids in Tucumcari and Goodwell, Oklahoma. In the great American tradition, O'Rourke writes that he is searching for meaning, too, as he runs near his hotel in Liberal, Kansas, and continues his drive northeast.

"Have been stuck lately. In and out of a funk," the guy who lost to Sen. Ted Cruz writes. "My last day of work was January 2nd. It’s been more than twenty years since I was last not working. Maybe if I get moving, on the road, meet people, learn about what’s going on where they live, have some adventure, go where I don’t know and I’m not known, it’ll clear my head, reset, I’ll think new thoughts, break out of the loops I’ve been stuck in."

However effective O'Rourke's essayist bit might be — politicians looking to normalize themselves have been guilty of a lot worse — it was one everyone had seen before. Last month, he wrote about his morning run through Washington, leading to hundreds of "He's Running" jokes on Twitter.

Then came the best chance yet to wildly speculate about why exactly O'Rourke has taken to the road.

Thursday afternoon, Texas' favorite would-be presidential candidate was back on Medium, again talking about his grandparents, along with the morning fog and a mother-daughter team running a bar and grill in Bucklin, Kansas.

"Taking all of this on — the daily tasks of running the restaurant and the responsibility for holding up one of the key pillars of Bucklin — had to be hard," O'Rourke said about the mom. "I could tell as much when she answered a call from someone and apologized for not getting back to them sooner — she was slammed that day and hadn’t had time to clear the tables, much less return phone calls. I was grateful that she’d stayed open for me and impressed at her commitment to a town that she was relatively new to (she and her husband had moved from Michigan not too long ago)."

Whether it's sharing his dental visits with the world or doing his best Kerouac on the Great Plains, it's clear that O'Rourke is on a listening tour, the sort of thing that might be useful in an early caucus or primary state like Iowa or New Hampshire. 

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Which leads us to the next thing worth noticing about O'Rourke's journey. While his grandparents might have history in Bucklin and Tucumcari, the two towns are also directly on the Google-suggested route from El Paso to Des Moines, as pointed out by Vox's Matt Yglesias on Twitter.

Whether he's headed to Des Moines or not, O'Rourke's running for president. All that's left is for him to say it.

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