HOUSTON - On the stump before hundreds of students at the University of Houston Democrat Beto O'Rourke hammered at incumbent Greg Abbott on the Texas abortion ban and his opponents refusal to embrace any form gun reform.
"We are going to win because we prioritize the lives of those kids in that classroom ahead of the NRA or any special interest in this state.. We are going to win because we are fighting for every woman to make her own decisions about her own body, her own future, and her own health care," said O'Rourke.
Blasted by Abbott, week after week, as soft on border security, O'Rourke doubled down on his call for Texans to extend empathy and compassion to those risking all to come here.
"I certainly understand why somebody might jump that line to be able to be with their families. Honestly, I might do the same thing if I were in the same position, so let’s make sure there is a safe, legal, orderly path for that person to do it the right way, the legal way," said O'Rourke.
Collectively, the message resonated, on the most diverse campus within perhaps the most diverse city in the entire country.
"Giving women the respect they deserve by trying to get their rights back. Making the immigration process faster for asylum or anything of the sort, it really hits close to home," said Jairo Avila, UH student and son of immigrant parents.
"I want to decide what I do with my own body. I want to be part of the group Gen Z and millennials that make that change, that turns Texas blue," said Alyna Flores, UH student and O'Rourke supporter.
With 41 days days until the November 8 election, polling has O'Rourke trailing Abbott by between seven and nine points.