By Jack Fink

(CBSDFW.COM) – Before Republican incumbent Sen. John Cornyn and Democratic challenger MJ Hegar face off in their first debate Friday, the two of them expressed concern about President Donald Trump’s tweet not to be afraid of COVID-19 after he tested positive for the virus and just before he left Walter Reed Medical Center for the White House.

Hegar said, “I am a little disappointed to hear him say things like, ‘don’t be afraid.’ I don’t want people to be afraid either. But I’m hoping that he takes this opportunity to stress the urgency of this disease.”

Cornyn said, “I understand that leaders want to try to show some strength and some optimism and confidence, and that’s important, but I think there’s been so much confusion about the general message in this election here that I think it’s frankly confusing to a lot of people.”

While we interviewed Cornyn Thursday afternoon, our interview with Hegar was Tuesday morning, hours before the Trump administration ended negotiations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Talks though have since resumed.

I asked both candidates if they support the House Democrats’ $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

Hegar said, “I have to get a closer look at it, I can tell you that I support more relief. I don’t support that relief. Without transparency and accountability. I’m very concerned about where all this money is going. I know that we’ve seen a lot of reports of fraud.”

Cornyn said Senate Republicans oppose the House legislation. “We’ve made up in essence a counteroffer, Senate Republicans for half a trillion dollar bill, but Speaker Pelosi said she wasn’t interested in a half a loaf, she wanted everything. But I support additional assistance. But I want to make sure it’s focused on COVID-19.”

There has also been a lot of discussion in the presidential race about increasing the number of Supreme Court Justices, as some progressive Democrats have mentioned.

Hegar said, “I think we need to be open to things but I am not in favor of that at this point. I think we have to be very careful of large scale, systemic changes and rules changes that we think are going to benefit one party over another because the pendulum invariably swings back to the other side.”

Cornyn said, “Can you imagine if the Democrats did it when they were in power, and then Republicans would be tempted to do it when they were in power? And I just think it is a bridge too far. And I’m disappointed that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are unwilling to publicly commit their opposition to it.”

Hegar raised more than $13.5 million dollars in the third quarter.

But Cornyn still leads the Real Clear Politics average of polls in Texas by 7.6 percentage points.

Both insisted their vision will be the key to a victory. “They’re going to see my vision for the state more closely matches their vision and their values than John Cornyn’s inaction as the Senator for 18 years”, Hegar said.

Cornyn responded, “I think this is a contest for who you know, who’s going to best represent Texas values, as opposed to National Democratic, progressive ideology.”

“We don’t have we don’t want to turn Texas into Chuck Schumer’s New York or Nancy Pelosi’s California,” Cornyn said.

FULL INTERVIEWS

Sen. John Cornyn

 

Challenger MJ Hegar