DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The road to the White House leads through North Texas for four Democratic Presidential candidates this weekend.
They include former El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
The Mayor spoke before nearly 700 people at the Dallas County Johnson Jordan Dinner in Dallas.
During a ten minute period, five hecklers interrupted Buttigieg.
As they were escorted out, Dallas Democrats cheered for Buttigieg, who’s also the first openly gay Presidential candidate.
The hecklers are part of the Society for Truth and Justice, who oppose abortion and same sex marriage.
The group is led by Randall Terry who founded the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue in the 1980s.
In response to the hecklers, Buttigieg said, “I’m thinking of that scripture that says blessed and do not curse.”
The 37-year-old veteran says the hecklers reminded him of when he decided to join the military.
“To that moment when I was packing my bags for Afghanistan for the purpose of defending that gentleman’s freedom of speech,” he said.
Earlier, Buttigieg told the crowd and reporters he feels a kinship with Democrats in Texas.
“I come from a red state too that’s full of people who are progressives, who are Democrats, who have a message that needs to be heard.”
Buttigieg has recently risen in the polls to fourth place.
Real Clear Politics shows he trails former Vice President Joe Biden who’s far ahead.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren are also ahead of Buttigieg.
The two Texans in the race, O’Rourke and former HUD Secretary and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, are trailing.
But O’Rourke is leading polls among Democrats in Texas.
CBS 11 asked Buttigieg why he believes he’s the best Democrat to take on President Donald Trump.
“I think America is looking for something entirely new. As somebody who lives in a middle class neighborhood in an industrial midwestern city in America, somebody who comes from a new generation, somebody who actually answered this country’s call to serve I couldn’t be more different than the current president.”
Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Carol Donovan joked that at least the hecklers had to pay to get in and that money went to their party.
At the same time, O’Rourke spoke to a crowd of about one thousand people in downtown Fort Worth.
It was his first visit to North Texas as a presidential candidate.
In November, he lost a close race to Senator Ted Cruz.
O’Rourke says he believes he can win the Democratic nomination and ultimately the White House by seeing and listening to people.
He calls his the largest grassroots campaign in America history.
O’Rourke explained what his campaign is all about.
“Ensuring everyone can see a doctor, everyone can work just one job and that be enough, excellence in public school, education, rewriting our immigration laws in our own image and then making sure we can front the challenge of climate before it is too late.”
O’Rourke will give the commencement speech at Paul Quinn College in Dallas Saturday.
Castro will appear at a get out the vote rally in Fort Worth Saturday for mayoral candidate Deborah Peoples, the Tarrant County Democratic Party Chair.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will campaign in Dallas on Sunday.