Willie Nelson Unveils Song for Election at Rally
Cafter Duet with O'Rourke for Tens of Thousands
The rally that U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke and Texas legend Willie Nelson teamed up to stage on Saturday night in Austin conjured visions of the event that Barack Obama used as a springboard for his first presidential race at the same exact location on the south shores of the Colorado River.
O'Rourke - an El Paso Democrat who's attempting to unseat U.S. Senator Ted Cruz this fall - has prompted comparisons to more famous politicos from Bobby Kennedy to Ronald Reagan in terms of the charisma that he's demonated and the ability to connect with everyday Americans.
But O'Rourke's speech-making abilities have been likened to Obama himself in his prime - and the Democratic challenger arguably delivered the most passionate and electrifying performance of his career in that regard at Auditorium Shores with the towering glass of the Capital City's downtown skyline as glimmering backdrop on a relatively cool September night.
Obama's stock had been on a meteoric rise in the wake of a breakthrough speech to the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004 when he completed a testing-the-waters tour with a speech to 20,000 admirers at the same park on the river in Austin on a Friday afternoon that was basked in sunshine in February 2007.
With a free concert by the state's number one celebrity musician as an added incentive on a weekend night with ideal weather for the early fall, authorities estimated that more than 50,000 people turned out to hear O'Rourke speak at the event that Nelson wrapped up. Hundreds of people started streaming out of the park when Nelson came on to the stage about 10:45 p.m. immediately after O'Rourke ended his speech.
O'Rourke appears to still be a slight underdog in Texas like Obama had been in the Lone Star State and nationwide as well when he appeared at Auditorium Shores on the stretch of the river that's commonly referred to as Town Lake. Obama ended up finishing second to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary here in 2008 before claiming more national convention delegates here than the former first lady as a result of his showing at party precinct conventions after the polls closed in round one that year.
O'Rourke returned to the stage for a duet with Nelson of the classic song On the Road in a symbolic reference to a campaign strategy that's taken the Democrat to all of the 254 counties in Texas.
Nelson ended the event with the debut of a new song that he's composed called Vote 'Em Out.