Texans discuss the midterms with national politicians at Texas Tribune Festival

Gracie Awalt

After being asked about the upcoming midterm election, Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke said Texans are more optimistic than ever to vote in November.

“The people of Texas are coming together and standing up to be counted in this moment of truth for our country,” O’Rourke said.

Democratic leaders and political analysts gathered together at the Texas Tribune Festival on Saturday to discuss the state of the nation leading up to midterm elections Nov. 6.

When Evan Smith, CEO of the Texas Tribune, asked about O’Rourke’s headline-making race against Ted Cruz for U.S. Senate, he said the new energy from Texas Democrats has fueled the enthusiasm for his campaign.

“We’re Americans, we’re Texans and we’re human beings, so we’re going to start treating each other that way,” O’Rourke said. “That energy comes from understanding our common cause and the fact that people are energized around not who they dislike, not the other party they want to defeat but the great things they know we can accomplish if we put our minds to it.”

Smith discussed how Cruz has run several negative advertisements about O’Rourke during his campaign, while O’Rourke has not done so to Cruz. Smith asked if he planned on running any negative advertisements about Cruz during the last 38 days of his campaign, and he said he wanted to focus on positivity.

“We are trying to run a campaign that is true to who we are,” O’Rourke said. “We are as honest, transparent and open as we can possibly be. You know, that’s just not me and not who I am. We’re not running against a certain person or political party. We’re running for the future.”

At a one-on-one panel with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, she said O’Rourke was “part of a new generation of leaders” that relates to young families and could change the state of the country if he was elected.

“He has the brilliance, he has the values and he has the stamina to run for senator and represent the state of Texas,” Pelosi said. “His election would be transformative not only for Texas, but for the country.”

The moderator asked if Pelosi thought Kavanaugh would be fit for the Supreme Court and if he would be able to rule in a nonpartisan fashion.

“In terms of temperament, he is not fit,” Pelosi said. “If a woman had ever performed that way in a hearing, they would say ‘hysterical.’ There was a way for him to go forward with dignity and without jeopardizing his own objectivity in the public mind. This is a moment in history. ”

If the House of Representatives is taken back by Democrats in November and Pelosi becomes Speaker of the House, the moderator asked how Democrats would address the thought of impeaching Trump. She said she wants to focus on issues that directly affect Americans instead of waiting for evidence to be found against Trump.

“The topic of impeachment should not be something on the campaign trail,” Pelosi said. “Impeachment is divisive in our country. If Mueller comes up with something that is so clear, I would hope that the Republicans would be patriots. I would rather use our energy winning the election.”

Margie Omero, Principal of the Democratic polling firm GBA Strategies, said the current state of politics in the U.S. worries her while discussing the country’s temperament leading into November.

“I’m deeply terrified,” Omero said. “I know we’ve been through tumultuous periods before, but right now we’re going through this and it’s not getting any better. It’s only getting worse.”

In contrast, Jonathan Martin, national political correspondent for The New York Times, said he looks at times in U.S. history when the country was in turmoil, such as the Civil War, the Red Scare and Reconstruction, and gains hope from the country’s pattern of recovery.

“The trajectory of this country is ever upward and we do strive to form a more perfect union,” Martin said. “There are always moments of backlash, difficulty, turmoil and polarization, and the country always comes back better for it."