Cruz, O'Rourke debate in Dallas

Cruz, O'Rourke debate in Dallas

Cruz and O'Rourke faced off in their first debate ahead of November 6's congressional elections at Southern Methodist University in Dallas on Friday, and Cruz's strategy swiftly became clear: Paint O'Rourke as too radical for this traditionally Republican state.

Speaking to reporters at Dallas' Southern Methodist University after Friday night's debate, O'Rourke says that when he defends NFL players' right to protest during the national anthem, Cruz likens it to endorsing burning of the US flag.

O'Rourke says voters are exhausted of negative campaigning and won't do it himself.

Cruz on Friday night was also asked whether Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's accuser could say anything that might question his support.

The crowd watching the debate at Southern Methodist University Friday was most animated while Cruz and O'Rourke took on guns, police violence and mass shootings. A top Trump adviser, Mick Mulvaney, the federal budget director, evoked the anxiety among many Republicans when he told donors recently in New York City that Cruz might lose re-election because he is not seen as "likable" enough. The state "needs a senator who will work with the president where we can and stand up to him where we must", O'Rourke said.

Cruz has tried to brush off Mulvaney's remarks, and the senator's aides and those close to him say he has been taking his opponent seriously but remains confident he will win. O'Rourke panned that idea, saying teachers have told they do not believe it will make them safer. "Cruz, are just not gonna cut it anymore", O'Rourke said.

O'Rourke, a charismatic congressman from El Paso, has benefited from an avalanche of media attention and a gusher of small donations, raising millions of dollars more than Cruz.

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Eastern Time. Cruz, who was a leading Republican presidential candidate against Donald Trump in 2016, is seeking a second term in the Senate. "The children of Texas deserve action", O'Rourke said. "Imagine the cost, imagine the stain on this country for generations moving forward".

O'Rourke said he's concerned at the high numbers of black Americans who are killed by white police officers.

Cruz responded: "More armed police in our schools is not thoughts and prayers". "I'm sorry you don't like thoughts and prayers".

Cruz also sought to draw attention earlier this year to a furniture store run by O'Rourke's mother that paid a $250,000 fine in 2010 after the store was accused of manipulating financial records. "I will pray for anyone in harm's way". Trump is expected to appear at a rally in Texas with Cruz next month.

Cruz said O'Rourke wanted to get rid of the Second Amendment, prompting O'Rourke to say that wasn't the case. Candidates were asked about what they admired about their opponent.

A second debate is planned for September 30 in Houston, followed by a final debate in San Antonio on October 16, which is three weeks before Election Day. The deadline to register to vote is October 9.

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