this is "nightline." tonight. b beto reboot. strategy change for a presidential hopeful, after a race-based mass shooter took aim at his hometown. beto o'rourke finding new purpose, but can he find momentum? plus, reaching for the ring. the athlete overcoming every obstacle in her way, not letting spina bifida or 28 surgeries slow her down. tossing off her crutches and now helping others face their biggest battle. but first, the "nightline" 5.
in the aftermath of a mass shooting. >> he may sound the same. >> we're going to be there for one another, no matter what the cost. >> that's how we bring this divided country back together again. >> but today beto o'rourke is a different candidate than he a weeks ago. >> i'm going back there to be with my family. >> an alleged white supremacist. >> how does it change how you are running for president? >> it's changed me as a person to have someone come into this community and kill 22 people. to know that was inspired at least in part by the president. the killer using much of the same language the president uses
in his manifesto. >> so el paso was the straw that broke the camel's back? >> el paso made it all to cleo r to us the consequences of donald trump. >> reporter: the presidential hopeful stepped away from the trail to spend time in the place that raised him. to mourn and help his community heal. ? that tragedy yesterday will not be allowed to define us. >> reporter: becoming a voice for the texas border town and an angry adversary to president trump. >> this president has sought to make this country afraid of places like el paso. >> reporter: his contempt for the president is palpable. this went viral on twitter. >> is there anything your mind that the president can do now to make this any better? >> what do you think? you know the [ bleep ] he's been saying. he's been calling mexican immigrants rapists and
criminals. members of the press, what the [ bleep ]. >> the president is a white supremacist. >> you believe that. >> i believe that. he makes the case far better than i could, right? if he calls clans men and nazis very fine people. when he sends 5,000 u.s. service members to communities like this one to line up against kids who are at their most desperate and vulnerable after having traveled 2,000 miles and calls those kids animals and puts them in cages. >> reporter: we spent time with o'rourke and his family during that time away from the trail. what happened here broke your heart. >> absolutely. >> reporter: it also seems that it pissed you off. >> yeah. >> reporter: and it shows, for some people, the bulldog they want to see to defeat trump. >> i have for so long been talking about the racism of this president. but when 22 people are killed in your community, when you're
attending funeral after funeral, yeah. that pisses you off and it makes it that much more urgent that we stop him. >> reporter: he seems to have discovered purpose and refound his footing in a presidential bid that's struggled to gain traction, reminding some why the one-time congressman captured so many for the run for the senate against ted cruz. he made an effort to travel to every county in texas. >> just human beings. real people making this happen. >> reporter: and expanded his brand nationally through social media, live streaming everything. celebrities like willie nelson flocked to the congressman, even beyonce showing her support. but it wasn't enough. he narrowly lost in this deep red state where democrats haven't won in decades. >> tonight's loss does nothing to diminish the way that i feel
about texas or this country. [cheers and applause] i'm so [ bleep ] proud of you guys. >> reporter: even in defeat, admirers saw a promising presidential future. he appeared with president obama and on vanity fair. but after he announced, he floundered in the polls and faltered in debates. we sat down with o'rourke and a group of texas voters, all undecided. >> can i ask you a question? we still like, in the democratic debates, is beto being polite? if you're toe to toe with trump, how are you going to do this? we need a bulldog in there. >> absolutely. this idea that you can release a canned attack line that you have rehearsed, that stuff is not me. i want to do a better job. i really do. but at some point, what is success like for you?
and success is winning the nomination. success is defeating trump. >> reporter: success for robert francis o'rourke may not have been a birthright but it was the expectation. he was a child of privilege. his mother a successful businesswoman and his father a politician and power broker. >> he was brash. he, you know, was not shy about speaking his mind. >> reporter: fluent in spanish, the father gave his son the nickname beto. young beto would choose his own path. the two still keep in touch. >> we were interested in skating, skateboarding. we were into punk music. >> reporter: in high school he joined a hacking group called the cult of the dead cow, where he ran a bulletin board. >> he felt like an outcast, like he didn't fit in. cult of the dead cow as it was known, provided a sense of can
community. >> reporter: at 15 he left el paso for an all-male boarding school in virginia, going on to columbia ufrt columbia university in new york. there he played in a punk band. >> check this out. four guys in a 1978 plymouth satellite station wagon, with our amplifiers, two changes of clothes between the four of us. >> reporter: but at 25, the pull of el paso led him home. the month after he returned he was arrested for drunk driving. police reports indicate he tried to leave the scene which he denies. he discussed it with ellen degeneris. >> that mistake did not define me. i was able to go on and do these things that's a function that i'm a white man. >> reporter: he met amy sanders, whom he would eventually marry. they have three children. in 2001, tragedy struck. his father was killed in a
cycling accident. >> i hope i'm living up to the expectation that he set for me. i miss him terribly. every day. >> reporter: in 2005, o'rourke decided to run for city council and won. he would go on to be elected to congress in 2013. a prep schooler turned punk rocker turned politician, you may call it the many reinventions of robert francis o'rourke. he's back on the campaign trail, pledging to serve the underserved communities. last week he went to mississippi where i.c.e. detained almost 700 immigrants earlier this month. >> i'm going to tell their stories. i'm going to make sure the rest of this country understands what's happening in our name. >> reporter: but as he travels the country, his love for his state is so evident that one of the biggest papers in texas wrote an editorial asking him to stay at home and run for senate, challenging republican john cornyn. >> you can run for president later. >> it's not a matter of age,
it's a matter of this moment. we've never been tested like we're being tested right now. the peril has never been greater. >> reporter: if you couldn't beat ted cruz here. >> right. >> reporter: what makes you think you can beat donald trump? >> texas. in 2018, a state that had been 50th in voter turnout. >> reporter: coming close is nice. >> yep. the other thing you need to know about texas is there are 38 electoral college votes in this state. i can win those 38 electoral college votes. it's that movement, it's that candidate that it will take to beat donald trump. >> reporter: accustomed to the role as the outsider, beto o'rourke is also at this moment a long shot, in a crowded field of democratic contenders. a city's heartbreak refocussed and reenergized his campaign. it's up to him now to rescue it. and a reminder. abc news and you knunivision wit
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here's maggie rulli. ♪ >> if you look at my bench pressing, i'm looking straight up at something. and that's my focal point. as soon as i turn to the left even just like a hair, my whole bench is off. so it's just like life. >> thank you. >> how do i begin to describe misty? misty is just completely shattering what we expect the human body to be capable of. >> if i were in her place i mean i would hope to be like her. >> i got it. >> at 4 foot 4 inches tall, misty diaz bench presses more than 100 pounds. she dominates in both the gym and on the spartan field, completing more than 65 spartan races to date. >> i'm just
>> these are some of my most recent obstacle course world championships. >> she is an absolute force, but when she was born, doctors never thought she'd even be able to walk. >> i had most of my organs on the outside of my body. >> misty was born with spina bifida. >> spina bifida means split spine. so for my case, my spine was completely exposed at l5. >> what did the doctors tell your parents when you were born? >> to let nature its course. [ laughter ] >> what'd your parents say about that moment? do whatever you need to do in order to keep our child alive. >> they flew me to fresno children's hospital, and then they couldn't figure it out. so they flew me to ucla hospital, and that's where i had every operation. >> how many have you had? >> twenty-eight. >> what was it like growing up and having to just go into operation, after operation, after operation? >> i was never able to make friends. >> i was having to do home schooling and i kept getting
sick. and kids around that age were going on dates, going to prom, going to homecoming, like, whatever. i never got to do any of those. i never got to go to homecoming. no one ever asked me out. >> but misty says her parents never focused on the things she couldn't do. they pushed her to find everything she could do. >> they did a really, really good job at making sure that i was independent. making sure that i didn't make any excuses. she just would be like. i'm not going to be here so i'm not going to reach that for you. how would you get that? at the time, i would literally cry and throw a fit, and she's like -- you don't understand as a mother it was like the worst. i just wanted to grab it for you. she's like, but i know you can do it. >> and misty says she's still figuring it out everyday, finding ways to fund her races around the world. to date she's signed up and completed more than 200 endurance races in places like malaysia and japan. >> come on misty, you can do it! >> but not long ago, these medals seemed impossible.
>> take me back to the time where you had that twenty-eighth surgery. what happened? >> i went to ucla with a overnight bag just to get me through the night. and i was supposed to be released that day. >> i was there for ten days, and i was given morphine two to three times a day, and then when i left i -- i was still bleeding. like, i was still severely in pain. so in order for me to cope i kept refilling my prescription. >> i was losing everything, and i lost my house, i lost a lotta my stuff. salvation army came and picked up a lot. >> what was the turning point? >> no one was gonna help me. i just was, like, "i am too young for this." >> misty started off by just walking, and quickly that walk went from a run to a full on sprint. >> and i thought i'd sign up for a 5k, so i went online and i found one, and i showed up in a purple tutu and payless shoes. and that was it. >> i just kept showing up to races, and then i slowly got everything back.
i got a job at a better job. i got a car and a better car. i got my dog back. i got my own apartment. i got a better apartment. >> the gym is now a part of misty's life everyday, often doing pull ups right by her side is her boyfriend chad who she's been dating for five years. >> i was just randomly watching the news. i saw a story on her, and then i messaged her, i said, "hey, weren't you-- just on tv?" we started talking, so. so then it progressed. >> i thought she was beautiful, and i thought she had a really, like, positive story. >> life together is sweet. but sometimes the outside world can be cruel. >> people, like, point, and sometimes you just wanna go to the grocery store. it's, like -- that's, like, walking down a runway and having people just stare at you when you're just trying to get from point a to point b. >> misty says, now her goal is to show the world that spina bifida doesn't define who she is. >> i skateboard on crutches, and people are like -- >> people don't understand, you
can do anything. >> she's working with brands to help make their products adaptive. and she's out with her own lipstick line. >> it just brings confidence, the strong out in me and the warrior that i am. >> my overall goal is to create some type of cap per, you know, lipstick, mascara, blush for someone who has dexterity issues, quadriplegic, elderly, to be able to hold the product, and be independent to put makeup on. >> independent and beautiful, inside and out. it's why misty helped launch the movement, hashtag spinabeautiful, working to be a role model on instagram. >> the bigger picture is that so many people who are adaptive, who have spina bifida, are just crushing life. >> she visits with young people just like herself to show them how badass an adaptive life can be. >> i think the biggest battle of my entire life, is just having acceptance within myself.
you know, years later. simply just standing in front of the mirror and saying, "you know what? you are beautiful, you are strong, you are confident." >> are you ever scared for the future? scared of -- >> i'm starting to -- yesterday i was looking at chad. i was like, okay, i'm getting a little older. i'm like, "i don't know how long i'm gonna be, like, running. like, let's be real. but i'm having fun, and i -- you know, i wanna look back. i'm gonna be old. i'm gonna be a cute, little old lady with red lipstick, and i'm gonna be, like, "you guys. look at these medals." >> today is mess at this misty's birthday. we wish her a strong celebration. next, the guest that will have you singing songs from your wildest dreams. unpredictable crohn's symptoms following you? for adults with moderately to severely active crohn's disease,
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swift's new album "lover" comes out friday, but tomorrow she'll be performing live in central park. her father and team already delivering water and pizza to nearly 200 fans camping out overnight. you can see the big concert live on gma right here on abc. it was bob marley who said the one thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain. that's "nightline." you can catch our full episodes on hulu. thanks for the company, america. goodnight.
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