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Ted Cruz, Beto O'Rourke spar in first debate

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) faced off in their first debate at Southern Methodist University, trading jabs over immigration, health care and gun rights.

Posted: Sep 24, 2018 1:00 AM
Updated: Sep 24, 2018 1:17 AM

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and his Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O'Rourke, were asked Friday night -- in what moderators intended to be a polite end to their first debate -- to say something nice about each other.

O'Rourke began by praising Cruz's work ethic and his family's sacrifice. Cruz started with a similar response, pointing out that they both have young children and saying, "Every day, when I leave for the campaign trail, it's hard."

Then he linked O'Rourke to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and socialism.

"Bernie Sanders believes in what he's fighting for -- he believes in socialism. Now, I think what he's fighting for doesn't work. But I think you are absolutely sincere, like Bernie, that you believe in expanding government and higher taxes," Cruz said. "And I commend you for fighting for what you believe in."

O'Rourke deadpanned: "True to form."

Cruz's backhanded compliment -- and O'Rourke's curt response -- was a fitting coda to an hourlong debate that put on display several of the candidates' biggest differences on issues like standing for the National Anthem, immigration and guns.

Cruz and O'Rourke are facing each other in a surprisingly competitive US Senate race in Texas, a Republican stronghold. Most polls have shown O'Rourke trailing, but after swearing off all political action committee donations, he has proved to be an online fundraising phenomenon, and on Friday night, O'Rourke played up his visits to all 254 counties in Texas. If he wins the race, it could help deliver control of the Senate to Democrats.

Friday night's debate at Southern Methodist University was the first of three debates and a CNN forum the two candidates agreed to before November's midterm elections.

During the debate, O'Rourke supported the rights of NFL players who have protested during the National Anthem, comparing them -- as he did weeks ago in what became a viral video -- to protesters in the civil rights movement.

Cruz shot back that he became a Republican in part because of the party's support for civil rights, while Democrats in the South supported Jim Crow laws. (He did not mention that President Lyndon B. Johnson -- a Democrat from Texas -- signed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act into law.)

Cruz also said that Martin Luther King Jr., if he were alive, would oppose the anthem protests because he respected the American flag. He said players should protest in a way that doesn't "disrespect the flag."

The two also clashed over immigration, with O'Rourke saying Cruz "has promised to deport each and every single Dreamer" and Cruz saying O'Rourke is "fighting for illegal immigrants" and that "Americans are dreamers also."

They differed on gun rights -- with O'Rourke arguing for some limits on gun rights and saying that "thoughts and prayers are just not going to cut it," and Cruz insisting that "gun control is not the answer."

Cruz also said school shootings are a result of "removing God from the public square," and he called for more armed police officers in schools.

O'Rourke was pressed on his 1998 arrest for drunken driving, and he noted he did not attempt to leave the scene of the accident and called it a "terrible mistake." He said the incident led him to fight to eliminate racial biases from the criminal justice system and help those who have served their time get jobs.

Cruz was asked how he had gone from his 2016 presidential primary battle with President Donald Trump -- in which Trump insulted the appearance of Cruz's wife, Heidi, and accused Cruz's father of being involved in a conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy -- to being political allies now, with Trump planning a trip to Texas.

Cruz said the 2016 election was "unlike any other, and there were some hard shots thrown." But after losing, he said, he decided not to be "selfish, to make it about myself," and instead try to "do something extraordinary" with Trump.

"I've got a responsibility, which is to fight for everybody here and every person in this state," he said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 604052

Reported Deaths: 7616
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1248161773
Ramsey52466895
Dakota46797470
Anoka42724458
Washington27406291
Stearns22552224
St. Louis18134312
Scott17544135
Wright16405148
Olmsted13390102
Sherburne1200195
Carver1066148
Clay825692
Rice8187110
Blue Earth762443
Crow Wing681494
Kandiyohi667585
Chisago619652
Otter Tail585684
Benton582998
Goodhue483474
Douglas475381
Mower470733
Winona461151
Itasca459263
Isanti439964
McLeod430161
Morrison424362
Nobles407950
Beltrami407561
Steele397616
Polk389072
Becker386555
Lyon363853
Carlton352756
Freeborn346932
Pine335023
Nicollet331045
Mille Lacs311454
Brown307840
Le Sueur297225
Cass286032
Todd285632
Meeker263142
Waseca238023
Martin235032
Roseau211021
Wabasha20783
Hubbard196241
Dodge18773
Renville182446
Redwood176338
Houston174616
Cottonwood167124
Wadena162823
Fillmore157410
Faribault154319
Chippewa153938
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138737
Watonwan13579
Rock128719
Jackson122612
Pipestone116626
Yellow Medicine114920
Pope11296
Murray107010
Swift106918
Koochiching95117
Stevens92411
Clearwater89116
Marshall88817
Lake83120
Wilkin83112
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5938
Lincoln5843
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned48093
Red Lake4017
Traverse3765
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 370840

Reported Deaths: 6048
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58221639
Linn21202339
Scott20303247
Black Hawk16106312
Woodbury15237230
Johnson1461485
Dubuque13505211
Dallas1128899
Pottawattamie11219174
Story1071148
Warren583791
Clinton561493
Cerro Gordo553693
Sioux516974
Webster515194
Muscatine4878106
Marshall486576
Des Moines467271
Wapello4337122
Buena Vista426940
Jasper420972
Plymouth402881
Lee382356
Marion366076
Jones300857
Henry294237
Bremer288161
Carroll286752
Boone268434
Crawford268240
Benton259655
Washington256951
Dickinson249444
Mahaska232352
Jackson225242
Clay216627
Kossuth216166
Tama211871
Delaware210943
Winneshiek198135
Page194522
Buchanan193433
Cedar192223
Hardin187544
Fayette186543
Wright185840
Hamilton181851
Harrison180073
Clayton171057
Butler166135
Madison164619
Mills163724
Floyd163242
Cherokee159438
Lyon158841
Poweshiek157036
Allamakee152752
Hancock150234
Iowa149824
Winnebago144431
Cass139155
Calhoun138913
Grundy137133
Emmet135841
Jefferson133535
Shelby131537
Sac130920
Union129935
Louisa129649
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126643
Chickasaw124717
Franklin123323
Guthrie123132
Humboldt119526
Palo Alto113523
Howard104922
Montgomery103638
Clarke100924
Keokuk96432
Monroe96230
Unassigned9540
Ida91535
Adair87332
Pocahontas85822
Davis85225
Monona82931
Osceola78916
Greene78011
Lucas77923
Worth7598
Taylor66812
Fremont6269
Decatur6169
Ringgold56324
Van Buren56318
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Audubon53511
Adams3444
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