NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Just days before President Donald Trump holds a rally in Houston for Texas Senator Ted Cruz, he inserted himself in the U.S. Senate race.

The President was among those watching the second debate between Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke.

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He tweeted about it twice Wednesday morning, saying in part, “Beto O’Rourke who wants higher taxes and far more regulations, is not in the same league with Ted Cruz & what the great people of Texas stand for and want.”

During a news conference at the San Antonio Police Officers Association Wednesday, Senator Cruz welcomed the President’s comments. “I appreciated the President’s tweet this morning. I’m very glad the President is coming Monday down to Texas for a rally in Houston and I will say I think President Trump is right.”

Recent polls show Cruz widening his lead over O’Rourke, from an average of four and a half points last month to seven points now.

Josh Blank, manager of polling and research for the Texas Politics Project at UT Austin, said there’s a good reason for the President getting involved in the Senate race again. “As the race starts to spread and look increasingly like Cruz is going to be the victor, I think the President is trying to take some credit for Cruz’s successful comeback in what was seen maybe as a tighter race.”

With less than one week to go before early voting begins, the tone of the race is becoming more combative.
O’Rourke is attacking Cruz more aggressively.

At Tuesday night’s debate at KENS-TV in San Antonio, O’Rourke used an old attack line that candidate Donald Trump used against Cruz during the 2016 Republican Presidential primary.

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O’Rourke said, “He’s dishonest, that’s why the President called him ‘Lying Ted’ and it’s why the nickname stuck, because it’s true.”

Cruz said Wednesday, “Their pollsters have told them they’re in trouble and so the decision they’ve made is attack and go ugly and nasty.”

Blank said the campaign and election calendar have entered the final phase. “A lof of O’Rourke’s early success was based on the fact he was eschewing partisan politics and bomb-throwing. At this point, as this race is starting to look a little less close, it’s important that he try other things and not leave any of the tools on the table.”

On Wednesday, O’Rourke began airing new TV ads criticizing Cruz’s positions and record. Cruz’s campaign ads have used the same tactic against O’Rourke for weeks now.

O’Rourke didn’t hold any public events Wednesday one day before he takes part in a CNN Townhall program near the southern border.

But last week, O’Rourke told CBS-11 pollsters aren’t accurately reflecting the state of the race, and that people will be surprised Election Night.

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