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Cruz Proposes Five Debates with O’Rourke

Challenger previously proposed six debates, including two in Spanish

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas talks with reporters after the Senate policy luncheons in the Capitol on July 17. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas talks with reporters after the Senate policy luncheons in the Capitol on July 17. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Two months after being challenged to a series of debates by challenger Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz proposed having a series of  five debates with his Democratic opponent.

Cruz’s strategist Jeff Roe sent a letter proposing dates, locations and topics, the Texas Tribune reported.

Roe said the debates would vary in format but would take place on Friday evening “because the Senate is expected to be in session during that time.”

“As Senator Cruz has long believed, our democratic process is best served by presenting a clear and substantive contrast of competing policy ideas, and these five debates will be an excellent way for both you and the Senator to share your respective visions with Texas voters in the weeks leading up to the November election,” Roe wrote.

Cruz proposed this schedule on these topics:

  • Aug. 31 in Dallas on jobs/taxes/federal regulations/national economy
  • Sept. 14 in McAllen on immigration/border security/criminal justice/Supreme Court.
  •  Sept. 21 in San Antonio on foreign policy/national security
  • Oct. 5 in Houston on energy/trade/Texas economy
  • Oct. 12 in Lubbock on health care/Obamacare


O’Rourke said he was encouraged that Cruz wanted to debate the issues.

“Our campaign looks forward to working with his campaign to finalize mutually agreed upon details,” he said.

The Tribune previously reported that O’Rouke contacted Cruz’s campaign in April to coordinate six debates, including two in Spanish but Cruz did not respond. He did tell reporters at the time, though, that his Spanish wasn’t good enough to a Spanish-only debate.

After a follow up letter, Cruz’s adviser Bryan English responded saying they would follow up.

“However, your arbitrary timeline for coordinating between the campaigns remains irrelevant to our decision-making process,” he said.

Cruz’s campaign said it is not open to negotiating changes but will work with O’Rourke’s team on moderators, sponsorships and media partners.

Last quarter, the Democrat from El Paso raised more than twice what Cruz raised and has consistently raised large sums of money.

Southern Methodist University professor Cal Jillson told CBS DFW that O’Rourke’s fundraising will make him competitive.

“He’s going to be able to go toe to toe with Cruz until the end of the general election, which Democrats are not usually able to do,” he said. “But whether he can prevail in a red state is doubtful. It’s going to be a great race, but if I was betting the rent money, it would still be with Cruz.”

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates Texas’ Senate Race Likely Republican.

Watch: Democratic Candidates Raise Millions in Second Quarter Fundraising

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