The Latest on Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke (all times local):

11:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump is welcoming Beto O’Rourke to the Democratic primary race with faint praise.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office Thursday, Trump says of the Texas congressman: “Well, I think he’s got a lot of hand movement.” Then he added: “Is he crazy or is that just how he acts?”

O’Rourke announced he was entering the race Thursday, joining a vast pool of Democrats hoping to take on Trump in 2020. For his part, Trump said he was ready for anyone.

Asked if he was more threatened by O’Rourke or former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump said: “whoever it is I’ll take him or her on.”

In this Feb. 5, 2019, photo, former Democratic Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke gestures as he describes how nervous he was meeting with former President Barack Obama during an interview with Oprah Winfrey live on a Times Square stage at
In this Feb. 5, 2019, photo, former Democratic Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke gestures as he describes how nervous he was meeting with former President Barack Obama during an interview with Oprah Winfrey live on a Times Square stage at “SuperSoul Conversations,” in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

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8:45 a.m.

Beto O’Rourke has begun campaigning in his 2020 presidential bid with his first trip to Iowa.

The former Texas congressman announced his White House run Thursday morning and stopped later in a coffeeshop in Keokuk (KEE’-uh-kuhk), Iowa. He promised to offer the kind of bipartisan, optimistic vision for the future that helped him nearly upset Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in deeply red Texas last November.

O’Rourke told the Iowa crowd: “I could care less about your party persuasion, your religion, anything other than the fact that, right now, we are all Americans.”

His comments were carried live on several cable television networks, something other Democrats in the already crowded White House field haven’t had.

O’Rourke has three days of campaign events in Iowa planned and has promised to travel the country listening to would-be voters.

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5 a.m.

Former congressman Beto O’Rourke is running for president.

The 46-year-old announced his 2020 Democratic primary bid Thursday with an online post. After months of teasing a bid, he’s finally, formally hoping to turn buzz from a close loss in Texas’ 2018 Senate race into a White House try.

O’Rourke nearly upset Sen. Ted Cruz. Since then, his blend of Kennedy-esque looks, easygoing charisma and bipartisan optimism has helped his national political star burn brighter.

Democrats have long dreamed that a booming Hispanic population could eventually flip Texas blue and transform the electoral college, making the Republican path to the presidency all but impossible.

O’Rourke’s home-state appeal may not prove to be enough to make Texas competitive, however, as the Democrats try to deny President Donald Trump a second term.

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