“Have y’all noticed that about every two days, there is another glowing media profile of Beto O’Rourke?” Cruz told supporters.
On Friday, Cruz challenged O’Rourke to agree to an hour-long debate on CNN on Thursday in McAllen.
“Beto, I’m happy to go to McAllen on the 18th, go to your town hall, and let’s have a real debate with the town hall crowd,” Cruz told reporters before appearing at a Houston rally.
The GOP incumbent’s challenge came as he complained of flattering media coverage of O’Rourke, his Democratic challenger.
“Have y’all noticed that about every two days, there is another glowing media profile of Beto O’Rourke?” Cruz told about 300 supporters at Firehouse Saloon in southwest Houston.
“Their favorite adjective for him, by the way, is ‘Kennedy-esque’ — usually with his hair blowing in the wind,” Cruz continued.
“But the media doesn’t want to cover his substantive record,” he said. “They don’t want to cover his support for impeaching President Trump, the only Democratic Senate nominee in the country (to do so). They don’t want to cover his talking about abolishing ICE (or) the fact that Beto O’Rourke voted in favor of a $10 a barrel tax on oil, on every barrel of oil produced in the state of Texas.”
Fact-checkers have noted O’Rourke has said the duties of Immigration and Customs Enforcement might be shifted to another agency. Also, on the oil tax, O’Rourke actually voted against a nonbinding measure opposing the idea. It was in the context of former President Barack Obama’s discussing ways to raise money for infrastructure.
“No, instead, the media covers, it’s all rainbows and puppies,” Cruz said of O’Rourke’s press coverage, which he dismissed as “puff pieces,” a derisive term.
“And he’s got really good hair,” Cruz said. “Apparently, we are electing a clump of hair.”
Also Friday, as Cruz stumped in his hometown, he granted lengthy sit-down interviews with Houston TV stations, including Univision.
The Cruz campaign also released a Spanish-language digital ad in which his father, Rafael, said his son “understands that liberty needs to be protected.”
But protecting Ted Cruz’s Senate seat is job No. 1 right now.
And Friday brought ominous news. O’Rourke raised $38.1 million in the third quarter, shattering national records for Senate fundraising. Cruz raised more than $12 million.
“That is the most money ever raised in a U.S. Senate race in Texas in history,” Cruz said of his own haul.
“Every left-wing radical in the country wants to turn Texas blue. And they are sending their money to Comrade Beto,” he said.
Members of the crowd murmured, “George Soros.” Mention of the liberal billionaire in conservative circles is frequent. However, fact checks have shown Soros has not been a heavy donor in Texas races.
As he has for months, Cruz stressed the importance of turning out GOP-leaning voters.
“The good news is there are a whole lot more conservatives than there are liberals in Texas,” he said.
On the CNN matter, the cable network in August invited both of the Texas Senate candidates to an Oct. 10 town hall debate.
That offer came in the context of a months-long wrangle with O’Rourke offering to do six debates. Cruz countered with an offer of five, but with terms that his campaign manager Jeff Roe insisted were non-negotiable regarding sites, dates, formats and broad topics to be covered. O’Rourke refused to accept the terms without alteration, and the Cruz side ended up agreeing to three debates.
The fact that O’Rourke had agreed to appear by himself on a CNN town hall Oct. 18 somewhere in the Rio Grande Valley has been public for nearly three weeks. News reports at the time also indicated that Cruz would participate in a similar forum.
On Friday, Cruz insisted O’Rourke was the stumbling block.
“Beto doesn’t get to hide in the protective cocoon of the media,” he said. “He actually has to stand up and defend his own policies, defend his failed record.”
However, CNN eventually offered Cruz his own solo hour and he spurned it.
O’Rourke spokesman Chris Evans did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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