There was not one vacant seat at Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s town hall meeting last Wednesday morning, as the Democratic challenger to Senator Ted Cruz spoke to a packed house at the Cedar Park Recreation Center.
More than 1,700 attendees filled the inside and spilled out of the hall. O’Rourke began his half-hour speech with a message of unity at the Recreation Center amidst thunderous applause.
“We’re doing this together,” he told the crowd. “So many people at events like these say they feel hopeful, they feel encouraged and they feel like maybe things are going to be okay in this country. I feel the exact same way when we all come together in this way. Not against anyone, not against anything, not against another political party but for one another, for this country, doing it in the most positive, aspirational and ambitious way. It feels really good.”
The overflow is a trend for O’Rourke, having similar turnouts in Corpus Christi, Navasota and Austin during his cross-state trip to visit all 254 of Texas’ counties.
“I want to make sure that we’re part of doing something great, not for the Senate but for the country,” O’Rourke said before his speech. “There are a lot of opportunities before us starting with the fact that Texas is the least insured state in the country, meaning that it’s incredibly hard for millions of our fellow Texans to see a doctor or get a prescription or take their child to a therapist. We could be the state that helps lead the way for this country.”
O'Rourke spoke to citizens about a wide variety of topics, first giving a short speech and then taking questions and comments from those in the crowd. He covered education issues and needs, treatment of veterans by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, global warming, job creation, changes in health care, women’s rights, reform in the criminal justice system and more.
The Democrat from El Paso also spoke of immigration. O’Rourke poured electric energy into a small, all-too-real anecdote for his audience.
“At the U.S.-Mexico border, where Texas meets the rest of the world, you have a child for whom you have risked everything, including your life,” O’Rourke said. “Literally, to have that child taken from you by force if necessary… and sent somewhere where you cannot follow, knowing not when or if you are ever going to see them again. That is happening in this country right now and it is up to us as to whether or not that will define us for generations to come.”
O’Rourke’s speech flowed with harmonic language and a call to work together for change, inspiring young and old alike of Cedar Park, never mentioning his opponent by name.
The Senate candidate ended his speech with graciousness and encouragement.
“To each one of you who made the time to be here today… who have taken time to be away from your families, your jobs and whatever else you were going to do today, thank you for being here with us,” O’Rourke concluded. “Thank you for fighting for this country at the moment it counts most.”
There are less than 60 days left before the first ballot is cast on Nov. 6 during the U.S. Senate election in Texas along with other elections to the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives in additional states.