Beto vs. Cruz: Round One

I had wanted to attend the first debate between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke. It took place this evening in Dallas, at Southern Methodist University … just a few miles south of where I live.

But wouldn’t you know it? Family business took me away from the Metroplex and my wife and I are spending a few nights in Amarillo.

Cruz, the Republican U.S. senator, is trying to fend off a challenge from O’Rourke, the Democratic U.S. House member who wants to join the Club of 100, aka the U.S. Senate.

By all accounts, the men exchanged in a lively exchange. They traded a few insults, but generally minded their manners while talking to and about each other.

I am glad that these two fellows faced off in person. They’ll have two more of these joint appearances, in Houston and San Antonio.

From what I have read, I take heart in the view that O’Rourke did well in his debate with Cruz, a noted debater whose skills were honed at Harvard.

The event did include some tense moments, such as this one, as reported by CBS News:

The two also disagreed over what the punishment should be for the police officer who shot and killed Botham Jean, an unarmed black man, in his own apartment. Cruz said that O’Rourke had compared police officers to the “modern Jim Crow,” which he said was “offensive.” O’Rourke denied that he said police officers specifically were the “modern Jim Crow,” and accused Cruz of dissembling.

“This is your trick in the trade: to confuse, and to incite fear,” O’Rourke said to Cruz. He accused the senator repeatedly of misrepresenting his words.

What might we expect during the second and third debates? That well might depend on what polls show about the state of this campaign. It isn’t supposed to be this close … but it damn sure is! The candidates are running neck and neck in a state that has leaned Republican for the past two decades.

I’ll stipulate for the umpteenth time that I want O’Rourke to win this contest. There. That said, I also know it’s a steep climb for the young congressman from El Paso.

My hope is that if he fares as well in the next two debates as he did in this first one, O’Rourke will do just fine, although “just fine” doesn’t mean necessarily that I predict he’ll actually win.

Then again, I hope for all the world that O’Rourke can take down the Cruz Missile.

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