News and Commentary

Ted Cruz’s Challenger Ducks Out Of Friday’s Debate

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the Democrat running against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz in Texas’ U.S. Senate race, announced that he is ducking a debate that had been scheduled for this Friday, blustering that it “is not going to happen.”

O’Rourke was appearing at the 2018 Texas Disability Issues Forum in Austin when he opined, “Friday in Dallas is not going to happen, but I’m convinced we will debate. I’m convinced there will be a number of debates.”

Just not this Friday.

In late July, Cruz strategist Jeff Roe sent a letter to O’Rourke, suggesting five debates: August 31 in Dallas on “Jobs/Taxes/Federal Regulations/National Economy”; September 14 in McAllen on “Immigration/Border Security/Criminal Justice/Supreme Court”; September 21 in San Antonio on “Foreign Policy/National Security”; October 5 in Houston on “Energy/Trade/Texas Economy”; and October 12 in Lubbock on “Healthcare/Obamacare.”

The debates were suggested for Friday evenings because the Senate is still in session. O’Rourke accepted the debates and offered a sixth in his hometown of El Paso.

In April, O’Rourke’s campaign kicked off the debate negotiations by proposing six debates, including two in Spanish.

But on Monday, O’Rourke complained that Cruz’s campaign has “attempted to dictate” the time, the moderators, and the subjects for the debates. He said, “We’re working through those differences, and we’re trying to introduce more of a collaborative style to the negotiations than he may be used to. And so we’re confident that out of that, we’re going to come to something good.”

Ironically, O’Rourke’s team had suggested coordinating a debate schedule as far back as April. But even before that, in March, Cruz noted that he had debated Senator Bernie Sanders numerous times on TV, adding, “I am not remotely afraid to debate left-wing liberal socialists.”