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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: 500286

Reported Deaths: 9968
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34281537
DeSoto32039402
Hinds31911626
Jackson24466379
Rankin21971390
Lee15501235
Madison14566279
Jones13825242
Forrest13438250
Lauderdale11984316
Lowndes11003188
Lamar10510135
Pearl River9494237
Lafayette8542139
Hancock7727126
Washington7418157
Oktibbeha7139131
Monroe6765176
Warren6679176
Pontotoc6655102
Neshoba6625206
Panola6511131
Marshall6460134
Bolivar6302148
Union601294
Pike5815152
Alcorn5662101
Lincoln5431134
George496579
Scott472198
Tippah468381
Prentiss466581
Leflore4654144
Itawamba4628105
Adams4584119
Tate4579109
Copiah447792
Simpson4440116
Yazoo443687
Wayne439172
Covington428694
Sunflower4235105
Marion4225107
Coahoma4154104
Leake408088
Newton381679
Grenada3703108
Stone359764
Tishomingo359492
Attala331089
Jasper329565
Winston314091
Clay307676
Chickasaw299467
Clarke292194
Calhoun278945
Holmes267887
Smith263350
Yalobusha233347
Tallahatchie226851
Walthall218763
Greene218248
Lawrence212440
Perry205256
Amite204755
Webster202646
Noxubee186440
Montgomery179456
Jefferson Davis171442
Carroll168738
Tunica159439
Benton148438
Kemper141941
Choctaw133326
Claiborne132237
Humphreys129238
Franklin119428
Quitman106428
Wilkinson104839
Jefferson94434
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 815989

Reported Deaths: 15311
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1144621915
Mobile723961330
Madison52114694
Shelby37488348
Baldwin37167547
Tuscaloosa35013606
Montgomery34031734
Lee23177245
Calhoun22190476
Morgan20719376
Etowah19774497
Marshall18277302
Houston17333411
St. Clair15967339
Cullman15365292
Limestone15270198
Elmore15126284
Lauderdale14205294
Talladega13783276
DeKalb12598260
Walker11142369
Blount10132175
Autauga9910146
Jackson9819182
Coffee9190191
Dale8874185
Colbert8803201
Tallapoosa7063198
Escambia6755130
Covington6695184
Chilton6608161
Russell626659
Franklin5947105
Chambers5563142
Marion4966126
Dallas4902200
Clarke474083
Pike4722105
Geneva4567126
Winston4493103
Lawrence4286117
Bibb423686
Barbour356576
Marengo337489
Monroe330863
Randolph328263
Butler325396
Pickens314182
Henry311865
Hale310688
Cherokee301660
Fayette291379
Washington251151
Cleburne247160
Crenshaw244075
Clay241268
Macon231763
Lamar219547
Conecuh185753
Coosa179439
Lowndes174464
Wilcox167839
Bullock151644
Perry138440
Sumter132038
Greene126244
Choctaw87827
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More high pressure will move back into our area overnight and into our Friday. This high pressure will bring back into our area some more dry and seasonable weather for a few days.
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