As he attended a funeral Thursday afternoon for a shooting victim, Leonardo Campos, some of Mr. Campos’s friends and co-workers asked for photographs. Inside the funeral home’s lobby, Mr. O’Rourke obliged, offering a closelipped smile. When he stepped outside, he took questions from Spanish-language reporters, expressing pride in El Paso’s immigrant roots.
Asked how he grapples with the fact that he is receiving newfound attention because of a mass shooting, Mr. O’Rourke replied, “Not much for me to grapple with. I am focused on my hometown, the community in which I was raised, the community in which Amy and I are raising our kids, the place that means everything to me.”
“Everything I’ve got is for El Paso,” he added.
Indeed, he skipped several major events in Iowa that drew virtually the entire presidential field.
“That’s where he should be,” said Sandra Stone-Flomo, a retired teacher from Des Moines, of Mr. O’Rourke’s decision to remain in El Paso.
But she said that Mr. O’Rourke would better serve his party by running for the Senate.
As most of the candidates attended a major Democratic dinner in Clear Lake, Iowa, Mr. O’Rourke spent Friday evening at his campaign headquarters, an industrial loft-like space in El Paso. There, he thanked his team for its work on behalf of the local community and shared stories of the survivors he had encountered.
He also emphasized his resolve to run for president.
“We are 100 percent committed to winning this race, winning the nomination, defeating Donald Trump, serving this country in the White House,” he said. “But as we all know, this is the right place for us to be and the right thing for us to do right now.”
His team applauded.