Ted Cruz Squares off with Beto O’Rourke in First Debate
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) squared off with his opponent Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) on Friday in their first debate. Appearing at Southern Methodist University, the candidates highlighted their stark differences that have long been evident in the race. Of note were O'Rourke's pithy clapbacks after spending his campaign, until this point, largely ignoring the incumbent and his attacks. Cruz accused O'Rourke of stoking racial hatred against police following the shooting death of Black Dallas resident Botham Jean in his own apartment by off-duty, white Dallas police officer Amber Guyger. O’Rourke responded saying, “This is your trick and the trade, to confuse and incite based on fear and not to speak the truth.” Before the debate, Cruz tweeted a video of O’Rourke speaking on the incident at a Black church. “How can it be in this day and age, in this very year, in this community, that a young man, African American, in his own apartment, is shot and killed by a police officer? And when we all want justice and the facts and the information to make an informed decision, what is released to the public? That he had a small amount of marijuana in his kitchen.” Cruz captioned the tweet, “In his own words,” which prompted some to ask: is the Senator endorsing his opponent or endorsing the shooting of Jean? Cruz had accused O’Rourke of turning people against the police by supporting the right of NFL players to peacefully protest police violence and the inequality in criminal justice during the national anthem. The pair also sparred on DACA. O'Rourke charged Cruz with promising to "deport each and every single Dreamer -- that cannot be the way that Texas leads on this issue." Without denying it, Cruz shot back that O'Rourke is focused on "fighting for illegal immigrants" and that "Americans are Dreamers." Texas hasn't elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1988. Hours before their Friday debate, the Cook Political Report moved the Texas Senate race from “leans Republican” to “toss-up.” The Friday event was the first of three hour-long debates, and it comes as polls continue to show a tight race between the two. The next two debates are scheduled for September 30th in Houston and October 16th in San Antonio. Early voting begins October 22nd. See the full debate here.