AUSTIN -- Complete with songs, signs and a table offering up stickers reading "Texas is Palin Country," the Tea Party Express landed at the Texas Capitol with Republican presidential contender Ron Paul the star of the show.
"Did you know there's a still ongoing presidential race in this country?" Paul joking asked the large audience assembled at the Capitol's south steps.
Even those who weren't Paul supporters gave a nod to the longtime presidential candidate's ability to attract a crowd of youthful supporters.
"I'm not for Ron Paul, but I notice a lot of young people here are for him," Linda Berglund said. "It's good to see young people get involved in politics."
Paul was joined by his son, Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul and Republican candidate for Texas' open seat in the U.S. Senate Ted Cruz. Ron and Rand Paul both threw their support behind Cruz, who's in a fierce race against Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, the front runner in the Republican senate primary.
Playing to the energetic crowd consisting largely of Paul supporters, Cruz drew comparisons between himself and U.S. Congressman from Lake Jackson. Both support eliminating federal departments like education and commerce, as well as auditing the Federal Reserve System.
"Ron Paul and Rand Paul have been clarion voices of liberty for many, many years, and fundamentally the Republican party lost its way," Cruz told KVUE after addressing the audience.
"In 2006 and 2008 far too many Republicans were going hand-in-hand with the Democrats in growing the size of government, the power of government," said Cruz. "It's how we've gotten a $16 trillion national debt, because you haven't had leaders in Washington willing to stand up and say, 'No.'"
For many Paul supporters who've yet to take interest in the race for U.S. Senate, the congressman's show of support for Cruz is enough.
"It's the first time I would have heard him, and I hear he's a good alternative to what we've got in there now," Paul supporter Ben Taylor said.
As for the presidential race, Paul's supporters haven't completely given up hope of a contested Republican convention, and what would be a historic upset if Paul is able to force a second vote.
"I think he could win," Bruce Litteaur said. "I think he could get Santorum's and Gingrich's delegates."
"I think he has many more supporters within the primary system than what people think," Taylor said.
Still others pin their hopes on something more subtle.
"I hope that he just captures the people's attention and that he gets people to think," Angela Maynard said.