Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke heaped praise on actor Matthew McConaughey in a new podcast but also took a shot at the possible gubernatorial candidate, who outpolled him in a recent survey.
Asked on The New York Times’ “Sway” podcast if he was surprised by the numbers, O’Rourke said he wasn’t but essentially called McConaughey a political chameleon.
“No. He’s an incredibly – if you’re talking about McConaughey – he’s a really popular figure whose political views have not in any way been fixed,” the former presidential candidate said.
The survey showed McConaughey beating Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, by nine points, and O’Rourke losing to Abbott by five.
O’Rourke pointed out very little is known about the actor’s political views.
“I don’t know, for example, who he voted for in the most consequential election since 1864 in this country,” he said. “I don’t know how he feels about any of the issues that we’ve brought up. I’m looking forward to listening to your interview. So I think that might explain part of it. And he’s a good guy who’s done some good work in this state. And he’s a great actor, on top of all that. So no surprise there.”
O’Rourke, the former three-term congressman who vaulted to national prominence when he challenged Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in 2018, is mulling a bid for governor in 2022 against Abbott. O’Rourke has staked out aggressively left-wing positions on gun control, abortion and election laws, while McConaughey has attracted attention for at times bucking conventionally liberal Hollywood.
“McConaughey, who has criticized both major parties, has suggested he’s more of a moderate,” the Dallas Morning News reported in April.
The Oscar-winning actor said in a recent interview he was “measuring it” when asked about a possible political future.
“Look, it’s going to be in some capacity … I just, I’m more a folksy and philosopher-poet statesman than I am a, per se, definitive politician,,” McConaughey said on the latest episode of “” podcast on Amazon. “So I go, well that’s a reason not to, but then I go, no, that’s exactly why you should. Because politics needs redefinition, but I’m measuring ‘what is my category? What’s my embassy?’”
O’Rourke didn’t commit to running for governor during the “Sway” interview but did acknowledge he was considering it. He broke fundraising records during his failed Senate run in 2018 and enjoys high name recognition, but his politics have shifted to the left since his loss to Cruz.
“It’s something I’m thinking about,” he said. “And you know, no secret about that. And I’m just trying to ensure that whatever I do going forward is to the benefit of the greatest number of my fellow Texans. And so I’m listening to them, trying to make the best decision in the interests of this state.”
The podcast was titled, “Can Beto O’Rourke Turn Texas Blue?”
O’Rourke’s 2018 Senate run was heavily hyped in the media and he used that race as a springboard for a 2020 Democratic presidential bid, but he dropped out months before the Iowa caucuses. He failed to get Texas into the Democratic column while aggressively campaigning for Joe Biden in 2020, although Donald Trump’s 5.5-point win was the closest margin of victory for a Republican White House candidate there since 1996.
Abbott is seeking a third term next year.
David Rutz is a senior editor at Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @davidrutz.