STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Ted Cruz, Beto O'Rourke spar in first debate

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) faced off in their first debate at Southern Methodist University, trading jabs over immigration, health care and gun rights.

Posted: Sep 24, 2018 12:43 AM
Updated: Sep 24, 2018 1:17 AM

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and his Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O'Rourke, were asked Friday night -- in what moderators intended to be a polite end to their first debate -- to say something nice about each other.

O'Rourke began by praising Cruz's work ethic and his family's sacrifice. Cruz started with a similar response, pointing out that they both have young children and saying, "Every day, when I leave for the campaign trail, it's hard."

Then he linked O'Rourke to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and socialism.

"Bernie Sanders believes in what he's fighting for -- he believes in socialism. Now, I think what he's fighting for doesn't work. But I think you are absolutely sincere, like Bernie, that you believe in expanding government and higher taxes," Cruz said. "And I commend you for fighting for what you believe in."

O'Rourke deadpanned: "True to form."

Cruz's backhanded compliment -- and O'Rourke's curt response -- was a fitting coda to an hourlong debate that put on display several of the candidates' biggest differences on issues like standing for the National Anthem, immigration and guns.

Cruz and O'Rourke are facing each other in a surprisingly competitive US Senate race in Texas, a Republican stronghold. Most polls have shown O'Rourke trailing, but after swearing off all political action committee donations, he has proved to be an online fundraising phenomenon, and on Friday night, O'Rourke played up his visits to all 254 counties in Texas. If he wins the race, it could help deliver control of the Senate to Democrats.

Friday night's debate at Southern Methodist University was the first of three debates and a CNN forum the two candidates agreed to before November's midterm elections.

During the debate, O'Rourke supported the rights of NFL players who have protested during the National Anthem, comparing them -- as he did weeks ago in what became a viral video -- to protesters in the civil rights movement.

Cruz shot back that he became a Republican in part because of the party's support for civil rights, while Democrats in the South supported Jim Crow laws. (He did not mention that President Lyndon B. Johnson -- a Democrat from Texas -- signed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act into law.)

Cruz also said that Martin Luther King Jr., if he were alive, would oppose the anthem protests because he respected the American flag. He said players should protest in a way that doesn't "disrespect the flag."

The two also clashed over immigration, with O'Rourke saying Cruz "has promised to deport each and every single Dreamer" and Cruz saying O'Rourke is "fighting for illegal immigrants" and that "Americans are dreamers also."

They differed on gun rights -- with O'Rourke arguing for some limits on gun rights and saying that "thoughts and prayers are just not going to cut it," and Cruz insisting that "gun control is not the answer."

Cruz also said school shootings are a result of "removing God from the public square," and he called for more armed police officers in schools.

O'Rourke was pressed on his 1998 arrest for drunken driving, and he noted he did not attempt to leave the scene of the accident and called it a "terrible mistake." He said the incident led him to fight to eliminate racial biases from the criminal justice system and help those who have served their time get jobs.

Cruz was asked how he had gone from his 2016 presidential primary battle with President Donald Trump -- in which Trump insulted the appearance of Cruz's wife, Heidi, and accused Cruz's father of being involved in a conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy -- to being political allies now, with Trump planning a trip to Texas.

Cruz said the 2016 election was "unlike any other, and there were some hard shots thrown." But after losing, he said, he decided not to be "selfish, to make it about myself," and instead try to "do something extraordinary" with Trump.

"I've got a responsibility, which is to fight for everybody here and every person in this state," he said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 154411

Reported Deaths: 3836
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10409104
Hinds10279202
Harrison7313112
Jackson6566128
Rankin5887106
Lee529496
Madison5014107
Forrest389786
Jones369088
Lauderdale3594147
Lafayette338253
Washington3246108
Lamar297850
Oktibbeha252362
Lowndes247064
Bolivar244384
Panola232653
Neshoba2249121
Marshall222851
Leflore208591
Monroe206778
Pontotoc204231
Lincoln197366
Sunflower192655
Warren180258
Tate177751
Union171926
Copiah167940
Pike165359
Yazoo160140
Scott159430
Itawamba157635
Alcorn155628
Pearl River155368
Coahoma152743
Simpson152653
Prentiss151331
Adams144752
Grenada143345
Leake139744
Holmes133461
Covington128639
Tippah128430
George128325
Winston125526
Hancock124341
Wayne121323
Marion119446
Attala119334
Tishomingo112443
Chickasaw109432
Newton108229
Tallahatchie98127
Clay94727
Clarke93653
Jasper85223
Stone80615
Calhoun78713
Walthall77629
Montgomery76926
Carroll74115
Lawrence73814
Smith73216
Yalobusha73128
Noxubee72717
Perry68326
Tunica62619
Greene61522
Jefferson Davis59017
Claiborne58916
Amite56615
Humphreys54719
Benton50018
Quitman5007
Webster46714
Kemper45018
Wilkinson40522
Jefferson37112
Choctaw3617
Franklin3555
Sharkey32417
Issaquena1204
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 252900

Reported Deaths: 3638
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson33526501
Mobile20103365
Madison13723151
Tuscaloosa13366154
Montgomery12552236
Shelby1079677
Baldwin9051137
Lee787266
Morgan696451
Calhoun6598121
Etowah656167
Marshall647357
Houston541038
DeKalb498137
Cullman462443
St. Clair441956
Limestone440445
Lauderdale426754
Elmore421164
Walker3735111
Talladega370157
Jackson340423
Colbert332042
Blount306140
Autauga281842
Franklin257434
Coffee250015
Dale239054
Dallas231532
Chilton228939
Russell22663
Covington225034
Escambia202331
Tallapoosa187291
Chambers182750
Pike161514
Clarke161019
Marion144736
Winston137523
Lawrence133436
Pickens126518
Geneva12508
Marengo123424
Bibb120418
Barbour118911
Butler118642
Randolph105522
Cherokee105124
Hale98131
Fayette94616
Washington93219
Clay92824
Henry8896
Monroe83011
Lowndes80929
Cleburne78814
Macon75522
Crenshaw72230
Bullock70119
Lamar7018
Conecuh70014
Perry6916
Wilcox64818
Sumter58622
Greene43518
Choctaw43114
Coosa3664
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
26° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 26°
Columbus
Clear
22° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 22°
Oxford
Clear
23° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 23°
Starkville
Clear
23° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 23°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather