Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), heading into the final weeks of his long-shot bid to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), took a break from criss-crossing Texas to appear on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Wednesday night. The Late Show host made it worth the trip, offering O’Rourke both a new campaign slogan (“Beto for Senate: Get Thirsty For This Hot Zaddy To Beat It Up”), and a chance to respond to some of Cruz’s recent attacks.
Cruz, for instance, has tried to raise questions about O’Rourke’s name — he was born Robert Francis but has gone by Beto since he was a child — and his punk band, Foss. (Cruz was born Rafael Edward but goes by Ted.) On Wednesday night, O’Rourke told the story of the musical time of his life, and placed it in the context of his Senate campaign. “For the better part of two years we wrote songs, put out records, toured the country, and it was the most amazing experience of my then-young life: to be telling our story from town to town, four guys living in a Plymouth Satellite, going from one city to the next. And there’s something about what we’re doing right now, as we travel to the 254 counties of Texas, just showing up, introducing myself and listening to those I want to represent in one community after the other. Doing it free of any political action committees or corporations or special interests.”
“Can politics be like punk rock?” Colbert asked.
“I think so — I think we’re proving that right now.”
Earlier Wednesday, it was announced that Texas elder statesman Willie Nelson will headline a rally for O’Rourke in Austin at the end of this month.
The pair talked policy, too, with Colbert asking O’Rourke, who grew up in the border city of El Paso, Texas, whether or not he would be willing to make the deal, floated by Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), that would protect DREAMers, in exchange for funding President Trump’s proposed border wall.
O’Rourke told Colbert he wouldn’t accept the deal. “We don’t need a wall. El Paso, this town that I was born and raised in,” O’Rourke said, “Happens to be one of if not the safest cities in the United States of America. And what makes us so safe is that we are a city of immigrants and we treat one another with respect and dignity. I think that’s fundamental to security, to success, to safety.”
O’Rourke went on to reference a bill he worked on with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) aimed at improving border security by “investing in our ports of entry — facilitating more legitimate trade and travel, and having a better idea of who and what is coming into our country.”
“We don’t need walls, we can have smart security solutions, and we can free DREAMers from the fear of deportation by making them U.S. citizens today so they can contribute to their maximum capacity, to their full potential, and we can move forward in that manner, making sure we’re secure, and making sure that we live up to our values and ideals,” O’Rourke said. “And Texas, the defining border state and immigration experience, we should lead on that.”