Analysis: Back to the wall, Cruz decries challenger O'Rourke as out-of-touch leftist

By James Oliphant DALLAS (Reuters) - Ted Cruz is in the political fight of his life — and he knows it. The conservative U.S. senator from Texas is being outpaced and overshadowed by his progressive challenger, Beto O’Rourke, who is pushing to be the first Democrat in Texas to be elected to the Senate in 30 years.

Reuters September 23, 2018 00:05:55 IST
Analysis: Back to the wall, Cruz decries challenger O'Rourke as out-of-touch leftist

Analysis Back to the wall Cruz decries challenger ORourke as outoftouch leftist

By James Oliphant

DALLAS (Reuters) - Ted Cruz is in the political fight of his life — and he knows it.

The conservative U.S. senator from Texas is being outpaced and overshadowed by his progressive challenger, Beto O’Rourke, who is pushing to be the first Democrat in Texas to be elected to the Senate in 30 years.

Cruz and O’Rourke faced off in their first debate ahead of Nov. 6’s congressional elections at Southern Methodist University in Dallas on Friday, and Cruz’s strategy swiftly became clear: Paint O’Rourke as too radical for this traditionally Republican state.

O’Rourke, a charismatic congressman from El Paso, has benefited from an avalanche of media attention and a gusher of small donations, raising millions of dollars more than Cruz.

Cruz remains favored, but only slightly. Most polls indicate the election is now too close to confidently predict.

The race has massive implications for the battle for the U.S. Senate. Democrats need two more seats to gain control and upend President Donald Trump’s agenda. Cruz’s seat was supposed to be safe, but he conceded at Friday’s debate that he’s in a battle.

DEFINING A PARTY

Cruz’s strategy in the debate highlighted how O’Rourke’s star-making candidacy can be been a double-edged sword for Democrats.

With his support of universal healthcare, his openness to abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, and his willingness to consider impeaching Trump, O’Rourke may define the party going forward in a way that could be incongruent with more moderate Democrats who must defend their Senate seats in states that Trump won in 2016.

At the same time, his campaign has kept the spotlight and money away from other races that are critical to Democrats’ hopes of taking the Senate in states such as Nevada and Tennessee.

Ultimately, even if O’Rourke pulls off what might be considered a political miracle in Texas, it might not matter for Democrats unless they can hold on to Senate seats in places such as Florida, Missouri, and Montana as well.

As for Cruz, his campaign continues to worry about competing with O’Rourke financially and whether Republican voters will turn out in numbers to ensure his victory. He is turning to the White House for help. Trump is expected to appear at a rally in Texas with Cruz next month.

The two candidates will face off twice more in debates before Election Day.

CONTENTIOUS DEBATE

In the debate, the two candidates clashed over issues such as immigration, gun rights, trade, and protests of the National Anthem, with O’Rourke frequently complaining that Cruz was misrepresenting his positions. At one point he accused Cruz of “slander.”

Cruz drew O’Rourke’s ire when he suggested that O’Rourke, in supporting protests of police brutality by National Football League players, favored burning the American flag.

O’Rourke said Cruz was trying “to mislead” the public. “No one here, including myself, has suggested anyone should be doing that,” he said.

He also pushed back at Cruz’s suggestion that he supports doing away with the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which safeguards gun rights. “That’s not true,” O’Rourke said.

After the debate, O’Rourke said Cruz “has a tendency to mischaracterize a position.”

“If we are talking about NFL players who are kneeling during the National Anthem at a football game to call attention to injustice in this country, he’ll talk about flag-burning,” O'Rourke said.

Cruz’s camp responded by arguing that O’Rourke’s positions were finally being publicized. “It’s the first time he is being directly confronted with his policies,” said campaign spokeswoman Emily Miller.

In his closing statement at the debate, Cruz lumped O’Rourke in with New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an avowed socialist, and argued that he was to the left of progressive U.S. senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

After the debate, O’Rourke was asked whether Texas is “really ready for a vision that sounds socialist.”

“I don’t buy into the labels,” he replied.

Even if O’Rourke doesn’t, Cruz showed on Friday that he certainly does.

(Editing by Nick Macfie)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.