AMARILLO, Texas (KTRK) -- Beto O'Rourke is in his first week of a seven-week blitz across the state, and after his Friday night event in Amarillo, he sat down with ABC13 to talk about the state of the campaign as his team planned 70 events in 69 locations over a 49-day stretch. They're calling it the "Drive for Texas."
It was in Muleshoe, Texas, population 5,000, after a meeting with the chamber of commerce that a man wearing a "Mean Tweets 2024" T-shirt approached O'Rourke and began a lengthy conversation. It's these kinds of discussions O'Rourke seems to seek out, choosing to spend time with those who don't agree with him as much as those who do.
"The last thing he said," O'Rourke said of his conversation, "is, No one ever comes to Muleshoe. And the fact that you came here and that you listened to me, means a lot to me.'"
At that same event, he thanked those who attended for sharing their ideas and their concerns, despite political differences.
"It's a demonstration of faith in this democracy and at a time that it is under attack in this state more than it is anywhere else in the country, and that gives me so much cause for hope," O'Rourke told the audience during a long question-and-answer session.
He ends every one of his stump speeches with a Q&A that often runs as long as his pitch. He then shakes hands, or takes photographs, with every attendee willing to stand in line. Sometimes, those lines last for more than an hour after the end of the scheduled rally.
But are these conversations enough for a Democratic candidate in a red state, seeking to defeat a two-term incumbent governor in Greg Abbott who leads him in all polling, and whose team pegs O'Rourke as a flip-flopper who Texans don't like? ABC13 spoke with Abbott's chief campaign consultant while on the road with O'Rourke.
"I'm glad he's out there because we get to videotape him saying crazy stuff," said Dave Carney, Abbott's chief campaign consultant, "saying one thing in one county and a different thing in another part of the state which really undercuts his credibility."
"You've heard me speak in Houston," O'Rourke said. "You've heard me speak in Amarillo. You saw me today behind closed doors in Muleshoe, and you saw me in an open-door meeting in that same community. My views are going to be consistent. I have the courage of my convictions."
It is more than three months to election day and O'Rourke will spend much of it on the road. In small towns and big cities, talking about where he stands on the issues and listening to what voters say matters to them, whether they agree with him or not.
"The trajectory is moving in the right direction," O'Rourke said. "The momentum and the pace at which we're closing in on this guy, is great. We have more than three months to go, but the thing that you can't measure, which is the energy that we all felt here tonight, that we felt yesterday in Synder, that we'll see when we get back to Houston. That is what tells me we're doing the right thing at the right time."