For those who like watching with a partisan support group, the O'Rourke campaign has organized a San Antonio watch party at Burleson Beer Garden, and there's also one sponsored by the Bexar County Democratic Party.
A big part of his fanbase really does seem to be upset about his decision, declaring themselves to no longer be fans, or swearing off his music entirely. Now, what I think he's fighting for doesn't work, but I think you are absolutely honest, like Bernie, that you believe in expanding government and higher taxes and I commend you for fighting for what you believe in.
"I don't know", Nelson said.
Colbert capped off the interview by showing Willie a series of pictures featuring notable people and asked which he would like light up with. But a variety of polls show that O'Rourke is staying within striking distance - prompting Cruz to go negative in ads lately, attacking his opponent for defending NFL players' right to protest during the national anthem and his opposition to the Trump administration's hardline stance on immigration. Cruz said survivors told him they do not want gun control and instead want more armed police officers in schools.
"Sorry you don't like thoughts and prayers", Mr. Cruz shot back, adding he would pray for anyone at any time.
The crowd watching the debate at Southern Methodist University Friday was most animated while Cruz and O'Rourke took on guns, police violence and mass shootings.
"Thoughts and prayers are just not going to cut it anymore, Senator Cruz, the people of Texas deserve action", O'Rourke said.
In Cruz's Senate career, he has missed 13.4 percent of votes, compared to O'Rourke 2.9 percent absence for House votes over the same period.
"That's not true", Mr. O'Rourke rejoined, before expressing what he said were common sense moves Congress can make to ensure "weapons of war belong on the battlefield and not in public life". "If Texas elects a Democrat, they're going to ban barbecue across the state".
The Cruz campaign has ridiculed O'Rourke for the name change, most recently with a country-music radio jingle: "If you're gonna run in Texas, you can't be a liberal man. / I remember reading stories, liberal Robert wanted to fit in". "I will pray for anyone in harm's way, but I will also do something about it". "I've got a responsibility, which is to fight for every person here and every person in this state".
The second debate will be in Houston on September 30. For however many voters were watching on a Friday night - when the focus of many Texans is on high school football - there was little appeal from either candidate to a middle ground. The deadline to register to vote is October 9.