Cruz-O'Rourke debate exposes Beto as 'out of touch' with Texas voters

The first debate between Senator Ted Cruz and his Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke was, as expected, contentious and personal. But between the barbs and bric-a-bracs thrown by both candidates, a clear choice emerged from the verbal skirmishing.

Cruz was successful throughout the debate at blowing up O'Rourke's carefully crafted image of some kind of "moderate," exposing him as a far left liberal out of touch with the majority of Texas voters.

On every major issue, Cruz made sure to draw a very clear line between the them.

On gun rights:

Cruz said O'Rourke wants to erode gun rights by blocking conservative judges and trying to unwind recent Supreme Court rulings protecting individuals' rights to own guns.

"Did you support Hillary Clinton?" Cruz asked O'Rourke.

"That has nothing to do with the Second Amendment," O'Rourke shot back.

He said "weapons of war belong on the battlefield," not in communities, schools and churches. That was a nod to his support for bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. O'Rourke also wants to strengthen background checks on gun buyers, saying states that have tightened their checks "have seen a near 50 percent reduction in serious gun violence."

On immigration, the candidate's positions were even more divergent:

O’Rourke called it morally right and economically smart to provide citizenship for “Dreamers" — and potentially for other unauthorized immigrants as well.

Cruz would deport the Dreamers, which economists say would impose billions in costs on the U.S. economy, O’Rourke said.

“We will gain hundreds of billions to the positive if we keep them here,” he said.

O’Rourke said he also favors a path to citizenship for adults who entered the country illegally.

Cruz boiled his immigration stance down to four words: “Legal good, illegal bad.”

There was this back and forth on the NFL anthem protests:

Cruz and O'Rourke mixed it up over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, which O'Rourke has defended in comments that have received national attention. O'Rourke reiterated at the debate that he believes "there's nothing more American than" such nonviolent protests, which the players say they are doing to draw attention to racial inequality.

Cruz shot back at O'Rourke that "nowhere in his answer did he address" that, in Cruz's view, kneeling during the anthem is disrespectful to veterans. Players have a right to protest, Cruz added, but they can do it in a way that does not "disrespect the flag."

O'Rourke was forced to explain his 1998 drunk driving arrest where a police report stated he tried to leave the scene of an accident, but was stopped by a witness.

Friday night, O'Rourke said: "I did not try to leave the scene of the accident, though driving drunk, which I did, is a terrible mistake for which there is no excuse or justification or defense. I will not try to provide one."

The DUI charge was dismissed after O'Rourke completed a court-approved diversion program.

Since his arrest, O'Rourke said, he's cleaned up his act. He started a business, got married, had three kids and launched a career in public service, he noted.

As he's done before, O'Rourke acknowledged that similar mistakes by poor people and minorities have foreclosed their ability to get Pell grants to attend college and to obtain jobs. As a result, O'Rourke said, he's vowed to "work on real and meaningful criminal justice reform."

Cruz, an able debater, scored points against O'Rourke time and time again. But O'Rourke avoided a knock out blow - this time. There are 2 more debates before election day and it seems likely that even a casual voter watching the debates will see O'Rourke for what he is.

But Cruz is hardly a shoo-in for re-election. His personal popularity among voters is underwater and O'Rourke's candidacy has energized Democrats in the state as well as around the country. That's the problem for Cruz whose own voters may decide to stay home on election day while O'Rourke voters - especially Hispanics and women - flock to the polls.

Even just a normal GOP turnout should give Cruz a close, hard fought victory. But there are certainly no guarantees, so Cruz will have to fight for every vote available.

 

 

 

 

The first debate between Senator Ted Cruz and his Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke was, as expected, contentious and personal. But between the barbs and bric-a-bracs thrown by both candidates, a clear choice emerged from the verbal skirmishing.

Cruz was successful throughout the debate at blowing up O'Rourke's carefully crafted image of some kind of "moderate," exposing him as a far left liberal out of touch with the majority of Texas voters.

On every major issue, Cruz made sure to draw a very clear line between the them.

On gun rights:

Cruz said O'Rourke wants to erode gun rights by blocking conservative judges and trying to unwind recent Supreme Court rulings protecting individuals' rights to own guns.

"Did you support Hillary Clinton?" Cruz asked O'Rourke.

"That has nothing to do with the Second Amendment," O'Rourke shot back.

He said "weapons of war belong on the battlefield," not in communities, schools and churches. That was a nod to his support for bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. O'Rourke also wants to strengthen background checks on gun buyers, saying states that have tightened their checks "have seen a near 50 percent reduction in serious gun violence."

On immigration, the candidate's positions were even more divergent:

O’Rourke called it morally right and economically smart to provide citizenship for “Dreamers" — and potentially for other unauthorized immigrants as well.

Cruz would deport the Dreamers, which economists say would impose billions in costs on the U.S. economy, O’Rourke said.

“We will gain hundreds of billions to the positive if we keep them here,” he said.

O’Rourke said he also favors a path to citizenship for adults who entered the country illegally.

Cruz boiled his immigration stance down to four words: “Legal good, illegal bad.”

There was this back and forth on the NFL anthem protests:

Cruz and O'Rourke mixed it up over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, which O'Rourke has defended in comments that have received national attention. O'Rourke reiterated at the debate that he believes "there's nothing more American than" such nonviolent protests, which the players say they are doing to draw attention to racial inequality.

Cruz shot back at O'Rourke that "nowhere in his answer did he address" that, in Cruz's view, kneeling during the anthem is disrespectful to veterans. Players have a right to protest, Cruz added, but they can do it in a way that does not "disrespect the flag."

O'Rourke was forced to explain his 1998 drunk driving arrest where a police report stated he tried to leave the scene of an accident, but was stopped by a witness.

Friday night, O'Rourke said: "I did not try to leave the scene of the accident, though driving drunk, which I did, is a terrible mistake for which there is no excuse or justification or defense. I will not try to provide one."

The DUI charge was dismissed after O'Rourke completed a court-approved diversion program.

Since his arrest, O'Rourke said, he's cleaned up his act. He started a business, got married, had three kids and launched a career in public service, he noted.

As he's done before, O'Rourke acknowledged that similar mistakes by poor people and minorities have foreclosed their ability to get Pell grants to attend college and to obtain jobs. As a result, O'Rourke said, he's vowed to "work on real and meaningful criminal justice reform."

Cruz, an able debater, scored points against O'Rourke time and time again. But O'Rourke avoided a knock out blow - this time. There are 2 more debates before election day and it seems likely that even a casual voter watching the debates will see O'Rourke for what he is.

But Cruz is hardly a shoo-in for re-election. His personal popularity among voters is underwater and O'Rourke's candidacy has energized Democrats in the state as well as around the country. That's the problem for Cruz whose own voters may decide to stay home on election day while O'Rourke voters - especially Hispanics and women - flock to the polls.

Even just a normal GOP turnout should give Cruz a close, hard fought victory. But there are certainly no guarantees, so Cruz will have to fight for every vote available.