NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The campaigns for Republican incumbent Ted Cruz and Democrat challenger Beto O’Rourke are negotiating to reschedule a debate in Houston originally planned for Sunday night.
On Thursday evening, the Cruz campaign called off their second debate with O’Rourke because the Senator thought he had to remain in Washington to vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh as the new Supreme Court Justice.
But when the vote was delayed Friday by at least a week, Cruz wanted to still hold the debate, but the O’Rourke campaign declined, saying it changed plans.
On Sunday night, O’Rourke went on Facebook Live, and Jeff Roe, the campaign manager for Republican Ted Cruz criticized him and the media in a tweet saying “If Ted Cruz had skipped an opportunity to debate before millions of Texans so he could cut a TV ad on Facebook while 6,000 people watched live, the media would rightly be lighting their hair on fire. Hashtag crickets for Beto.”
An O’Rourke campaign spokesman, Chris Evans said Monday, “The Cruz campaign contacted the university, the host stations, and our campaign late Thursday with a directive: ‘I just left you a message. This Sunday is OFF.’ The university, host stations, and our campaign moved accordingly. We were flexible for several days understanding that things were up in the air. However, their email saying it was off gave clear direction to everyone.”
SMU political science professor Matthew Wilson says, “I don’t think either side is to blame for this circumstance.”
Wilson says Cruz is different than other incumbents who would rather avoid debates to avoid potential mistakes because they’re comfortably ahead in the polls. “In this case however, the incumbent Ted Cruz is not comfortably ahead. It’s a close race. It could really go either way, even if he has a bit of an advantage. And he’s also pretty confident he’s not going to make a mistake. I think Cruz feels like O’Rourke is more likely to make a mistake.”
Karen Watson, the Vice-Chair of the Dallas County Republican Party says it’s clear why Senator Cruz wants to reschedule the Houston debate.
“Senator Cruz is a great debater so of course he can stand-up with his record and programs and policies and vision for Texas continuing forward. So yes, he’s happy to share that with the rest of Texas.”
Carol Donovan, Chair of the Dallas County Democrat Party says O’Rourke held his own during their first face-off at SMU September 21st. “He (Cruz) didn’t cream Beto in the debates, that’s a problem if you’re known as being a great debater and you go toe to toe, but you don’t cream him, then you don’t win.”
Two potential debates being considered for the rescheduled Houston debate are Sunday, October 14th or Sunday, October 21st.
Both Watson and Donovan say they’re confident the debate in Houston will be held.
Thus far, the next scheduled debate between Cruz and O’Rourke is Tuesday, October 16th in San Antonio.
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