After Ted Cruz declines CNN town hall in Texas, rival Beto O’Rourke gets full hour

October 12, 2018

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has declined to participate in a CNN town hall-style meeting on October 18 with his opponent in the midterm elections—leaving the entire one-hour broadcast to his challenger, Representative Beto O’Rourke (D-16th District), the Huffington Post reported on October 10.

The Texas Senate race remains tightly contested, according to results of a Quinnipiac University poll released on October 11, with Cruz leading by 9 percentage points.

Texas last elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate when Lloyd Bentsen won his fourth term in 1988.

Originally, O’Rourke had proposed six debates between the two candidates, who are vying for the Senate seat that Cruz has held since 2012. However, he then backed off—complaining that Cruz was trying to control too much of the debate structure.

Now, Cruz has refused the town hall platform, although his campaign manager, Jeff Roe, tried to clarify the move on Twitter on October 9, saying “To be clear, the Cruz campaign proposed that @CNN host one of the Cruz-O’Rourke debates. The O’Rourke campaign declined. @CNN subsequently offered back to back town halls, in which we are unable to participate.”

The incumbent has three new campaign events listed on his website—one on October 12 in Houston at the Firehouse Saloon; one on October 13 in Montgomery at Ransom’s Steakhouse; and another later that same day in El Paso at Franklin High School. At this time, he has no events listed for October 18.

Among the comments in response to Roe’s explanation, was one from @jneutron1969, who noted on Twitter, “Why won’t Cruz do a town hall though? I understand that it plays against his strength of traditional debating, but he should still be able to handle the wild-eyed leftist/commie [O’Rourke] in a town hall format shouldn’t he? Sometimes I get the feeling Cruz isn’t very brave. Like Piglet.”

To that, Roe replied, “If @TedCruz had skipped an opportunity to debate before millions of Texans so he could cut a TV ad on Facebook while 6,000 people watched live [on CNN] the media would rightly be lighting their hair on fire. #CricketsforBeto #TXSen.”

Meanwhile, in a write-up of its televised political events, CNN announced: “CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash will moderate a live, one-hour town hall with Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke, who is running for U.S. Senate, on Thursday, October 18, at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT at the McAllen Performing Arts Center near the US-Mexico border.

“GOP Senator Ted Cruz’s campaign initially accepted CNN’s invitation to participate but later declined, a network official said,” CNN said.

Meanwhile, another Twitter reader, @oldmanebro, commented, “Debates can be hustled, Town Hall meetings don’t allow for prepared, prepackaged BS.”

Research contact: carla.baranauckas@huffpost.com

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