The stakes were high for Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst. But during the debate tonight — their first in these weeks between the first round of the election and the runoff — the energy was low.
That’s not to say there weren’t disagreements, primarily about what Dewhurst had (or hadn’t) done during his tenure as lieutenant governor. Cruz accused him of backing a payroll tax, which Dewhurst denied. “We have over two dozen newspaper articles that are contemporaneous, quoting the lieutenant governor supporting a payroll, tax so we can now compare the facts to what he just told a television audience,” Cruz rejoined.
Cruz said he wanted to “eliminate sanctuary cities.” This, he said, was a matter on which he and Dewhurst had different views. “He was responsible for killing the bill that would have prohibited sanctuary cities.”
“I passed out of the senate a anti-sanctuary city bill,” responded Dewhurst.
The two also sparred over the TSA.
“In the Texas legislature, there was a strong bill to ban TSA groping,” Cruz said. “The Obama administration threatened the state of Texas and Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst backed down. He asked a liberal Democrat to round up the votes on the floor against the bill, and he killed the bill because he didn’t want to stand and fight Obama.”
“The truth is,” Dewhurst responded, “I am opposed to the groping by the TSA as much as anyone.” Noting how upset he would be if his wife or daughter was subject to an invasive TSA search, Dewhurst added, “That’s why I worked with Senator Patrick, that’s why I asked Governor Perry to put the anti-groping TSA bill on the call, that’s why I brought it up, that’s why I passed it out of the senate, a stronger bill than we had before.”
In Dewhurst’s closing comments, he stressed his business experience. “We’ve created the very best economy in the entire country,” he said. “We’re the fastest growing job creator in the entire country, and I want to take those skills to Washington and get our country back to work.”
Cruz, for his part, noted the strong support his campaign had generated from conservatives. “We were outspent five to one, and yet we’re in this runoff because tea-party leaders and Republican women and grassroots conservatives came together,” he said.