CNN’s Brianna Keilar on Beto O’Rourke: There’s a Fine Line Between ‘Being a Blank Canvas and an Empty Vessel’


CNN anchor Brianna Keilar delivered a rather scathing assessment of Beto O’Rourke‘s performance in a recent interview in which the potential 2020 presidential candidate punted on several questions.

On Wednesday’s edition of CNN Right Now With Brianna Keilar, the host discussed O’Rourke’s potential bid with CNN political director David Chalian, and complimented a video from the group Draft Beto 2020, which mimics O’Rourke’s social media-centric style.

But then, Keilar brought up O’Rourke’s recent interview with The Washington Post‘s Jenna Johnson, during which O’Rourke seemed to have trouble answering several questions.

“He was asked how he would handle immigrants who overstay their Visas, and he said ‘I don’t know’,” Keilar said. “On withdrawing troops from Syria, he said there may be a good reason, but he doesn’t necessarily understand. He seemed to be passing on a lot of stuff, the Constitution, he questioned whether a 230 year-old document can be used as a guide for today’s issues, especially international issues.

“Is he ready?” Keilar asked Chalian. “I mean ,you have to be able to have something of substance and have formed opinions on these things.”

Chalian agreed it was a valid question, but added “remember, we’ve seen that question asked before, I mean, Barack Obama in 2007 was getting criticized from many in the Democratic Party for not issuing white papers. And he made clear I wasn’t going to be the candidate of white papers.”

Chalian suggested that O’Rourke is “trying to preserve as much flexibility as possible, be a blank canvas,” but added “you better believe that is going to raise questions in Democratic circles of does he have what it takes? And only Beto O’Rourke is going to be able to answer that in a future interviews with how he conducts himself.”

“It’s a fine line to walk between being a blank canvas and an empty vessel, right, as someone will accuse you of being,” Keilar said, then hastily added “Not you, you know, collectively, the ‘you.’ Just to be clear, you are a very full vessel full, of very important knowledge.”

O’Rourke hasn’t formally announced a presidential bid, but has been near the top of early polls after his near-miss defeat against Ted Cruz in the 2018 Texas Senate race. But O’Rourke will face stiff competition from an ever-growing field of Democratic candidates who will likely be keen to capitalize on mistakes like those contained in this interview.

Watch the clip above, via CNN.

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