Representative Beto O’Rourke (D., Texas) employed a combative approach in his debate with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas Tuesday night, repeating President Trump’s derisive nickname from the 2016 campaign, “lyin’ Ted.”
O’Rourke, a three term Congressman trailing slightly behind his incumbent opponent weeks before election day, went on the offensive immediately, employing hostile rhetoric reminiscent of that on display in the 2016 Republican primary debates.
“This is what you can expect over the course of debate,” O’Rourke said after Cruz accused him of supporting a tax hike on oil. “Sen. Cruz isn’t going to be honest, he’s dishonest.”
“That’s why [Trump’s] nickname stuck — because it’s true,” he added.
Cruz, a former competitive debater, remarked on the palpable shift in his opponent’s strategy since their last debate.
“Well it’s clear Congressman O’Rourke’s pollsters told him to come out on the attack,” Cruz said.
The candidates’ position relative to President Trump emerged as a central topic of the debate as Cruz painted his opponent as unable to cooperate with the White House while O’Rourke cast the incumbent senator as a Trump puppet.
O’Rourke is “the only Democratic Senate nominee in the country who has explicitly come out for impeaching President Trump,” Cruz said, adding that if his opponent were to be elected, he would pursue“two years of a partisan circus” resulting in impeachment.
“It’s really interesting to hear you talk about a partisan circus, after your last six years in the U.S. Senate,” O’Rourke shot back.
“Listen,” O’Rourke said, “if you have this special relationship with President Trump, then where is the result of that? You are all talk and no action.”
O’Rourke then raised the specter of the recent wave of sexual assault allegations that have disrupted elite professionals in nearly every industry and accused Cruz of being insufficiently supportive of the #MeToo movement.
“The #MeToo movement has done an incredible amount of good for our country,” Cruz said in response to O’Rourke’s citing his opposition to the Violence Against Women Act . “I believe everyone, women and men, girls and boys, need to be protected.”