AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Democrat Beto O’Rourke is getting to make his case for ousting Republican Sen. Ted Cruz during a nationally televised, solo town hall on CNN.

The event Thursday night comes two days after the El Paso congressman scrapped his usual optimistic, bipartisan message and criticized Cruz sharply during their last scheduled debate in San Antonio.

debate1 ORourke Gets CNN Town Hall In Bitter Texas Senate Race

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) shake hands after a debate at McFarlin Auditorium at SMU on September 21, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (credit: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images)

An ex-punk rocker giving up his congressional seat to challenge Cruz, O’Rourke has shattered fundraising records and attracted glowing national attention as he tries to become Texas’ first Democrat to win statewide office since 1994. But polls that once showed him staying close now have Cruz pulling away.

CNN previously offered both candidates separate town halls, but Cruz declined. The senator later said he’d like to make Thursday’s event a debate, but O’Rourke didn’t agree.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)