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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: 319704

Reported Deaths: 7369
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22276267
Hinds20677421
Harrison18407317
Rankin13880282
Jackson13689248
Madison10249224
Lee10056176
Jones8464167
Forrest7827153
Lauderdale7260242
Lowndes6509150
Lamar634888
Lafayette6310121
Washington5420137
Bolivar4837133
Panola4669110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4604147
Marshall4573105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425373
Union415777
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4061179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386687
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3369111
Alcorn325972
Scott320174
Yazoo314171
Adams307486
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298189
Tippah291968
Prentiss283861
Leake271974
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231568
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187854
Stone187833
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127138
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69532
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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We continue to monitor a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico. This will be in heavy rainfall two locations across the southeast over the course of the weekend, and flooding rainfall could be in tow as well. Things are looking better for Father’s Day itself, thankfully.
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