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Home | News | Election Center: Vote2018 | Beto O’Rourke Swings Harder at Ted Cruz in Second Debate
U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, left, faces U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in debate at the KENS 5 Studios in San Antonio on Oct. 16, 2018. Tom Reel/POOL/San Antonio Express-News

Beto O’Rourke Swings Harder at Ted Cruz in Second Debate

SAN ANTONIO — In the lead-up to the U.S. Senate debate here Tuesday night, Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke heard from supporters who wanted him to take a more aggressive stance toward Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.

It appears O’Rourke listened.

Over the hourlong event, the El Paso congressman took a series of harsher-than-usual swings at Cruz — including a couple of blows evocative of the senator’s battle with Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race.

“He’s dishonest,” O’Rourke said of Cruz at one point. “That’s why the president called him Lyin’ Ted and it’s why the nickname stuck because it’s true.”

“It’s clear Congressman O’Rourke’s pollsters have told him to come out on the attack,” Cruz shot back. “So if he wants to insult me and call me a liar, that’s fine.”

Trump, who is coming to Houston on Monday for a rally with Cruz, fueled a number of contentious exchanges during the debate at the studios of KENS 5, the CBS affiliate in San Antonio. Early on, O’Rourke accused Cruz of not being able to stand up to the president for Texans, while Cruz went on to dismiss the idea O’Rourke would be able to work with the president after expressing support for his impeachment. And “Lyin’ Ted” was not the only Trump-style insult aired in the debate, with O’Rourke telling Cruz multiple times that he was “all talk and no action.”

As O’Rourke hammered Cruz as more interested in his political career than representing Texas — “Ted Cruz is for Ted Cruz,” the challenger said at one point — Cruz pressed his long-running case that O’Rourke is captive to the activist left and too liberal for Texas. He also repeatedly cast O’Rourke as a key agitator if Democrats take Congress for the next two years under Trump.

“You want to talk about a shutdown?” Cruz said after O’Rourke raised Cruz’s leading role in the 2013 government shuttering. “With Congressman O’Rourke leading the way, [there’ll be] two years of a partisan circus and a witch hunt on the president.”

O’Rourke offered a deadpan response, telling Cruz it is “really interesting to hear you talk about a partisan circus after your last six years in the Senate.”

Cruz’s campaign argued O’Rourke’s more hostile performance was a reaction to recent spate of polls that show Cruz expanding his lead.

“When you’re down 10, you better do something, right? You better change the conversation,” Cruz strategist Jeff Roe told reporters after the debate. “When an unconventional candidate becomes conventional, that’s typically when they get split like a cantaloupe, and I think that’s what we’ll see.”

Cruz and O’Rourke, who first debated Sept. 21 in Dallas, may have sparred for the last time before Election Day when they took the stage in San Antonio. A debate that had been planned for Sept. 30 in Houston was postponed amid the battle over Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, and it has not yet been rescheduled.

After the debate, O’Rourke was set to head to the Rio Grande Valley to participate in a CNN town hall Thursday in McAllen. Cruz declined to appear back-to-back at the event but has since sought to turn it into another debate.

Early voting begins Monday.

Read related Tribune coverage

Authors:  PATRICK SVITEK AND MATT ZDUN –  The Texas Tribune

About The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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11 comments

  1. #MAGA = MUELLER AIN'T GOING AWAY!

    Hypocrite Lying Ted Cruz! “Don’t interrupt me Jason” Really interesting to hear you talk about the partisan circus after your six years in the senate.
    Ted Cruz is just as despicably disgusting as Donald Trump is an evil beast! with that being said,it’s the everyday mean spirited abnormal condition of the republican mind.
    And to think that many Texans are sold and bought on Ted Cruz’s mentality way of thinking, I should have just used the word, DEPLORABLE!
    They are a bunch of deplorable racist bigots,and misogynist, and it don’t matter that Ted Cruz has a Hispanic surname either. He still sides with the racist bigot Donald Trump. And in the most partisan ways, where this fascism federalist Nazism that has now become the republican party platform.Besides that all Hispanic republicans have their heads screwed on backwards since they too,Pride on Bigotry, racial divide! and inequality.
    These republican moron bigots want total control of power! OK they got Neil Gorsuch and now Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court bench. Neil Gorsuch.Neil Gorsuch, a stolen supreme court seat by Mitch McConnell, and Brett Kavanaugh, still pending rape allegations. But he feels right at home with Clarence Thomas. MI CASA ES TU CASA! bart kavanaugh…..
    Two more years of them in power and mostly everyone will pay a deep price for allowing this to happen.
    For starters, there is another round of new tax cuts for the wealthy rich after the midterm elections.
    Since republicans already feel that they have these midterm elections rap up in their bag of Wins!
    All republican’s in the house of congress are expecting to keep their office seats.The BIG RED ALGAE WAVE! is going to stick it to us and Mitch McConnell has already said that Social Security,Medicare and Medicaid are draining the national deficit. So in order to solve that issue, STAND FAST AMERICA! and Texans Too! the GOP is going to abolish all three, then give themselves more TAX CUTS!
    And if you send Ted Cruz back to Washington, he is only going there to help with Donald Trump’s dismantling of our democracy and freedoms. Ted Cruz is for Ted Cruz, and HE’S NO TEXAN! he’s an IMPOSTER FROM ANOTHER COUNTRY!
    VOTE HIM OUT!
    LET’S TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY!
    AND STOMP OUT THE REPUBLICAN CUCARACHAS!

    • Come election night, they will have to put your insane butt in a nut ward when little Bobby Francis gets his wealthy leftist butt fired by the people of TEXAS! God Bless Texas!!

    • wow ..just wow.. thank you for proving the mentality of the left.. mob rule and the talking down of our country to be a socialist government
      happily though this will not happen
      Red Wave

    • 😂😂😂😂😂

  2. I can’t wait to see little Bobby Francis O’Dork, unemployed!

  3. Francis is nothing more than a snake oil salesman.

  4. #MAGA = MUELLER AIN'T GOING AWAY!

    The partisan circus of deplorable clowns of the White Nationalist NAZI Party of Trump! These right wing Nut Jobs think that they rule the world with Don THE CON! What a total embarrassment Y’ALL ARE! SHAMELESS FOOLS!
    On November 7th you are going to wake up to a RUDE AWAKENING you CUCARACHAS! Ted Cruz will be UNEMPLOYED! DEMOCRATS will take back control of both houses of congress! IT’S A REFERENDUM! on Donald Trump that his worst nightmare is coming! 2019 IMPEACHMENT YEAR for the dotard moron.
    Senator Beto O’Rourke will be joining Chuck Schumer,Cory Booker,Kamala Harris,and all the rest of the American Patriot Democrats! in the United States Senate.
    As we are going to take back OUR COUNTRY! RESTORE LAW AND ORDER! AND SEND Donald Trump! Donald Trump Jr! Jared Kushner to “LA PINTA”! LOCK EM UP! Leavenworth or San Quentin either will do just fine.
    Donald Trump is in a hell of alot of trouble and time is about to finally catch up with him. Follow the money! CHECK!! Russian Collusion! CHECK!! OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE! CHECK!! ALLEGATIONS AND ACCUSATIONS OF SEXAUL ABUSE by 19 women! CHECK!! MONEY LAUNDERING! CHECK!! RUSSIAN MEETING IN TRUMP TOWER=TREASON!! CHECK!
    This is not South Africa during apartheid where the Majority of the population is ruled by a small minority of RACIST NAZI BIGOTS!
    And besides that Ted Cruz is GOING DOWN! in 20 more days from now, Heidi Cruz might have to flip hamburgers at the Houston McDonalds and clean houses. To help make ends meet for Ted, trump’s lying hand puppet that needs help.
    GOD BLESS SPECIAL COUNSEL CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR, Robert Mueller! all those criminal indictments over thirty of them and more on the way HOORAY! makes Susan Collins want to admit herself to the nutty asylum for old lame useless mules.

    • Dear moderators, why haven’t you banned this psychotic from posting?

      • Forum Administrator

        Thank you for your question. It is our belief that all dialog is both instructive and illustrative of the person posting. Shy of foul language or all-out threats, we will not censor or otherwise remove comments.

        • If you monitor his posts, he uses profanity and racial slurs, all the time

          • Forum Administrator

            Thank you for your reply. We will go back and check for specific terms, however – for reference on profanity – our rubric is George Carlin’s ‘Seven dirty words’ and direct, credible threats of violence.

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