Houston Chronicle by Jeremy Wallace Nov. 2, 2018
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruzâ€™s closing message to voters is as much about Beto Oâ€™Rourke as it is about his own campaign.
While most Republicans running for statewide office in Texas this year largely avoid talking about their Democratic opponents, Cruz has been unyielding in his final stump speeches in attacking Oâ€™Rourkeâ€™s positions on everything from climate change and immigration to health care and the economy.
â€œAt this stage of the campaign, in the closing days, weâ€™re showing a simple and straightforward contrast,â€ Cruz said in an interview in Laredo.
Oâ€™Rourke, on the other hand, rarely mentions Cruz by name during his rallies. In Waco on Wednesday, Oâ€™Rourke delivered a more than 20-minute speech and never said Cruzâ€™s name. But in Midland a day earlier, Cruz mentioned Oâ€™Rourke by name 20 times in a 29-minute speech.
â€œThere is no race in the country that presents a starker divide than this U.S. Senate race here in the state of Texas,â€ Cruz told the crowd in Midland, a line he repeated in other stops.
The focus on Oâ€™Rourke comes as public polling shows the race, one of the most-watched in the nation, is getting closer. Some polls have it as close as 3 percentage points, while others have the margin as wide as 10 percentage points. Combined, the two candidates have raised over $110 million â€” a new national record for a general election battle for a U.S. Senate seat. Oâ€™Rourke has raised more than $70 million.
Cruz said he is not responding to any polling, just trying to make his case clearly to voters as he seeks another 6-year term in office. Cruz said he is convinced that on almost every policy position, Oâ€™Rourke is â€œout of step with most Texansâ€ and heâ€™s making sure voters know the differences as they head to the polls.
Cruz is emphasizing their positions on four key issues:
- On the Trump Tax cuts, Cruz said he helped get the bill passed, whereas Oâ€™Rourke voted against it.
- On the Paris Climate Change Agreement aimed at reducing pollution, Cruz said he encouraged the President to back out of the deal because it would harm American manufacturing and energy companies. Oâ€™Rourke supported keeping the U.S. in the agreement.