Texas Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and his Democratic opponent, Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, faced off in their second and final debate before the Nov. 6 election Tuesday night. The hour-long event was broadcast from San Antonio TV studio, KENS-TV.
The race has been unexpectedly close for Texas. O'Rourke, a charismatic politician who has drawn large rally crowds, fawning magazine profiles and comparisons to Barack Obama in 2007, has far out-raised his opponent. In the third quarter, O'Rourke raised $38 million, shattering the record for quarterly contributions.
Cruz is narrowly leading O'Rourke in most polls. A CBS News Battleground Tracker poll from earlier in October showed Cruz with 50 percent support among likely voters, compared to 44 percent support for O'Rourke.
For years, national Democrats have pinned their hopes on Texas, believing that demographic changes and urbanization could turn Texas, the state of Lyndon B. Johnson and George W. Bush, blue again. Although that vision failed to be realized in 2016, O'Rourke and his fans are hoping 2018 could become a turning point for Texas.
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Read our as-it-happened live blog of the debate:
Cruz, O'Rourke give final statements
O'Rourke and Cruz each gave two-minute closing statements. O'Rourke went first, leaving his podium to speak from the center of the stage.
O'Rourke talked about the importance of the United States as an inspiration to the world, and his concern that it was going down the wrong path with ideas of "walls, Muslim bans, the press as the enemies of the people, taking kids away from their parents."
"We're in desperate need right now of inspiration," O'Rourke said, adding that the people of Texas had inspired him.
Cruz also stepped out from behind the podium, but offered a less philosophical closing statement. He highlighted his policy differences with O'Rourke, saying that his opponent supported raising taxes and socializing medical care. He then said that O'Rourke was the candidate of fear, while he offered hope.
"Do we choose fear, or do we choose hope? I believe in hope," he said.
Cruz, O'Rourke agree on importance of Me Too
"I think the Me Too movement has done an incredible amount of good for this country," Cruz said. He mentioned how he was the co-sponsor of legislation with Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to end taxpayer settlements for sexual misconduct by members of Congress.
However, O'Rourke criticized Cruz for voting against the Violence Against Women Act. He pivoted to discuss how Cruz did not attend several Senate votes in 2016 while he was running for president.
Cruz, O'Rourke discuss civility
The two candidates discussed the importance of remaining civil in debate.
"My disagreements with Congressman O'Rourke, they haven't been personal attacks," he criticized the "anger" and "rage" on the far left. He criticized Democrats for opposition Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation due to allegations of sexual assault against him.
"We saw Senate Democrats being willing to smear Brett Kavanaugh," Cruz said.
Cruz did snap at the moderator when he tried to ask a follow-up question.
"Don't interrupt me, Jason," he said.
O'Rourke touted his bipartisan bona fides, mentioning times that he had worked with Republican Reps. Will Hurd and Mike Coffman.
Cruz responded by criticizing O'Rourke's support for impeachment, saying it was the opposite of civility.
"If we had impeachment next year, we would see utter chaos," Cruz said.
Debate characterized by personal attacks
The two candidates attacked each other's policies and their beliefs throughout the debate. Cruz often laughed during O'Rourke's answers, and at one point said "not true" when O'Rourke discussed Cruz's vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017.
Meanwhile, O'Rourke criticized Cruz's "campaign based on fear," and hit him for his role in shutting down the government in 2013.
On the issue of trade, Cruz said that he was against a trade war, but unlike O'Rourke, he would be able to work with the president to get the best deal for Texans.
"Congressman O'Rourke is not able to work with President Trump," Cruz said. He criticized O'Rourke for supporting Mr. Trump's impeachment, calling it a "partisan circus."
"Really interesting to hear you talk about a partisan circus," O'Rourke said in response, to laughter from the audience.
O'Rourke also criticized Cruz for focusing more on running for president in 2016 than on his own constituents.
Candidates clash over border security
The two sparred over border security, with Cruz and O'Rourke disagreeing on whether a border wall should be built between the U.S. and Mexico.
"There's no race in the country with a starker divide on immigration," Cruz said. He knocked O'Rourke for voting against Kate's Law, which would enhance penalties for convicted and deported criminals.
O'Rourke said that he supported greater screening of people entering the country. He also hit Cruz for voting against motion to vote on legislation about Dreamers, immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.
O'Rourke resurrects "Lyin' Ted"
The two candidates sparred over climate change, and what the proper reaction should be. Cruz criticized a vote O'Rourke made to put a $10 tax on barrels of oil, telling voters to go to his website to see the vote.
"Senator Cruz is not going to be honest with you," O'Rourke responded, adding that Cruz would make up votes he had never made, seemingly referring to the $10 tax. "It's why the president called him Lyin' Ted, and it's why the nickname stuck."
The two senators discuss abortion rights
Cruz reaffirmed that he was pro-life, and criticized O'Rourke for supporting abortion rights, and for supporting late-term abortion. He made an overture to Hispanic voters, said that he didn't believe Hispanic voters were as extreme in their beliefs on abortion as O'Rourke.
O'Rourke defended his positions, saying he wanted justices who were concerned in "civil rights" and "voting rights."
"I only vote for a Supreme Court justice who believes in a woman's right to make her own decisions about her own body," he said.
Cruz, O'Rourke discuss whether Congress should regulate social media
The first question was on election security, in light of Russian interference in the 2016 election. The two candidates' reactions fell along partisan lines.
"We know they will attack us again, in this election and the next," O'Rourke said about the Russians, adding that citizens must make sure "we are not manipulated."
O'Rourke added that he thought Congress should impose "thoughtful regulations on social media."
Cruz pivoted to discuss about the "political bias of big tech," mentioning how Facebook and Twitter are perceived to be anti-conservative.
"I believe in the first amendment. I don't believe Congress should be in the business of regulating conduct," he said.
Trump comments on Daniels, Khashoggi background to the debate
The debate between Cruz and O'Rourke comes after a day filled with controversial comments from President Trump. On Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump criticized porn star Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had an affair with Mr. Trump and had her defamation court against the president dismissed on Monday.
""Federal Judge throws out Stormy Danials lawsuit versus Trump. Trump is entitled to full legal fees." @FoxNews Great, now I can go after Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer in the Great State of Texas. She will confirm the letter she signed! She knows nothing about me, a total con!" Mr. Trump said, insulting Daniels' appearance.
Later on Tuesday, Mr. Trump compared allegations that the Saudi government authorized the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi to accusations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
"I think we have to find out what happened first," he said in an interview with the Associated Press Tuesday about Khashoggi's disappearance in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. "Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent. I don't like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I'm concerned."
Cruz and O'Rourke may have to answer questions about Mr. Trump's comments on Tuesday, as well as Khashoggi's disappearance, at the debate.
A significant fundraising gap
O'Rourke raised $38 million in the third quarter, crushing the previous record for quarterly fundraising, when Republican Senate candidate Rick Lazio received $22 million in contributions in 2000. Lazio lost to Hillary Clinton in the 2000 New York Senate race.
Meanwhile, Cruz raised nearly $12 million in the third quarter.
O'Rourke's campaign haul is staggering -- he raised more in one quarter than Jeb Bush did in his entire 2016 presidential campaign -- but money does not ensure victory. While O'Rourke has the funds, Cruz is winning with the numbers that matter: in the polls.
New CNN poll shows Cruz ahead of O'Rourke
A poll by CNN released Tuesday showed O'Rourke with 45 percent support among likely voters, compared to 52 percent support for Cruz. This tracks with other recent poll findings.
A Quinnipiac Poll from earlier this month showed Cruz 9 points ahead of O'Rourke. This poll showed that a majority of men support Cruz, while a majority of women support O'Rourke. Republicans are trying to hold onto support from suburban women this year, and this election could be an indicator of whether these voters are turning to Democrats.
Trump to rally in Texas for Cruz
President Trump has called Cruz "Lyin' Ted." He has insulted Cruz's wife's appearance, and accused his father of being involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Cruz, meanwhile, has called Mr. Trump a "sniveling coward," a "pathological liar" and "utterly amoral."
However, it's unlikely that either man will repeat insults from the 2016 presidential election when Mr. Trump rallies for Cruz in Houston, Texas, on Oct. 22.
Mr. Trump tweeted that he would travel to Texas to support Cruz in August, when it became apparent that the race was tighter than national Republicans would like.
Cruz defended his tight relationship with the president in the first debate with O'Rourke.
"After the election in 2016, I faced a choice," Cruz said. "I made a conscious choice to do the job I was elected to do, which was to represent 28 million Texans." Cruz said his now-close relationship with Mr. Trump helped him advocate for Texans with regards to trade policy.
Two debates instead of three
After meeting for their first debate on Sept. 21, Cruz and O'Rourke were scheduled to debate again on Sept. 30. However, that debate was postponed due to the Senate's vote to confirm now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The debate has not been rescheduled.
O'Rourke is participating in a CNN town hall Thursday. Cruz declined to attend, but his campaign has said he would participate if it were a debate instead.