Don’t count on a debate between U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and his challenger, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, just yet.
Cruz had suggested five debates, starting with Friday in Dallas. The other proposed dates were Sept. 14 in McAllen, Sept. 21 in San Antonio, Oct. 5 in Houston and Oct. 12 in Lubbock, all Fridays.
O’Rourke’s counteroffer called for the first debate to be moved to October, at least three of the five meetings to occur on a Sunday or a weeknight other than Friday and a sixth debate in El Paso. Cruz’s campaign manager, Jeff Roe, told O’Rourke in a July 27 letter that the senator’s debate plan “isn’t an open negotiation” but was open to an El Paso meeting.
O’Rourke told reporters Monday in Austin he wouldn’t be debating Friday.
“We have been trying to work with the Ted Cruz campaign on mutually agreed upon dates, locations, times, format, issues that can be discussed,” he said. “Those negotiations are ongoing, and I’m confident we’re going to come to a resolution and have debates in Texas.”
Cruz’s campaign had dictated the terms of debate, O’Rourke said.
“Our response was we want to work with you but this has to be a collaboration; it cannot be dictated to. So let’s sit down and talk,” O’Rourke said. “And so only recently have we begun those conversations. I’m confident that out of that will come a series of debates. More than one.”
Cruz told reporters Monday in Dallas he doesn’t know where things stand on the debates.
“Beto O’Rourke seems not to want to debate,” he said. “The first debate was supposed to be here in Dallas on Friday. I’d accepted it. I’m prepared right now to come to Dallas on Friday and do the debate, but the O’Rourke campaign has turned it down. It seems Beto O’Rourke doesn’t want to come debate. Now, I assume we will see some debates, but I don’t know how many. They seem very reluctant to engage.”
Abbott vs. Valdez
In the race for governor, former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez said Monday she will debate Gov. Greg Abbott on Sept. 28 in Austin, according to a campaign news release.
Valdez initially declined to participate because it was on a Friday evening during football season and didn’t include Spanish-language components, among other things. Now, Nexstar Media Group will broadcast the debate live across numerous Texas stations and online, and Telemundo also will carry the debate and “provide a moderator and instantaneous Spanish translation,” the Valdez campaign said.
“After pressure from the Valdez campaign, Abbott conceded to include a Spanish language media partner to broadcast, moderate and translate the debate,” the campaign said in a statement.
Abbott’s campaign pushed back on Valdez’s characterization of the debate agreement.
“In a desperate attempt to show signs of life, our opponent’s campaign has finally agreed to debate after months of snubbing voters,” Abbott campaign spokesman John Wittman told the American-Statesman on Monday. “Lupe Valdez’s decision is not surprising given the grim public polling data, stories about losing her sheriff-issued gun and paltry crowds at her campaign events. Let us be clear – there have been zero concessions made by our campaign or by the hosts of the debate. This is another instance of Lupe Valdez being liberal with the truth.”