Cruz, O’Rourke face off in first debate

U.S. Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas (left) and U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, debated for the first...
U.S. Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas (left) and U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, debated for the first time on Friday Sept. 21, 2018. (CNN VAN photo)(KWTX)
Published: Sep. 21, 2018 at 3:04 PM CDT
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U.S. Senate candidates Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke faced off Friday evening in Dallas in the first of three televised debates.

Friday’s debate at Southern Methodist University focused on domestic policy.

The two candidates clashed during the hour-long debate on a range of issues including immigration, the border wall, gun rights, health care and judicial appointments.

Cruz on Friday night was asked whether Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's accuser could say anything that might cause him to question his support.

Cruz said "absolutely," but didn't elaborate while calling the allegations serious.

O'Rourke, meanwhile, disputed reports that he tried to flee the scene of a 1998 drunken-driving arrest in El Paso.

The candidates will also debate on Sept. 30 at the University of Houston and on Oct. 16 in San Antonio.

Cruz, a onetime Ivy League debate champion, finished second in the 2016 Republican presidential primary.

O'Rourke, a three-term Democratic congressman from El Paso, is giving up his seat to challenge Cruz, who was first elected to the Senate in 2012.

Texas hasn’t had a Democratic senator since Lloyd Bentsen in 1994, but O’Rourke has amassed a large campaign war chest and made a point of visiting all 254 Texas counties, including many that Democrats wrote off years ago.

Most recent polls show the two in a statistical dead heat.

President Donald Trump will rally in Texas for Cruz next month, which was once unthinkable in the nation's largest red state.