Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has declined to participate in back to back town halls on CNN with Democratic challenger Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), giving O’Rourke an un-countered hour to speak with CNN’s Dana Bash on October 18.
The Cruz campaign says that Cruz offered to participate in a debate moderated by CNN, but that O’Rourke declined, opting to do a town hall alone.
“During the months of negotiations on debates, we offered to have CNN moderate a debate, but Beto’s campaign said no,” said Cruz spokeswoman Emily Miller in an email. “Then — on his own — he accepted a solo ‘town hall’ with CNN. CNN then offered us our own town hall the following time, which we declined. We will be doing activities that engage Texas voters.”
The O’Rourke campaign did not address the debate Cruz allegedly offered.
“CNN offered us the opportunity to hold a town hall and we accepted,” said deputy communications officer Ana Castañón. “They made the same offer to the Cruz campaign.”
The two have a scheduled debate on Tuesday in San Antonio.
O’Rourke and Cruz first debated in late September at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The exchange was frequently tense, ending on a fractious note.
The moderator asked both politicians to say something they admire about each other.
O’Rourke said that his opponent works “very hard” and complimented him for the sacrifice public service requires for Cruz, who has young children.
Cruz responded by calling O’Rourke “passionate” but immediately segued back to political attacks, comparing him to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
“True to form,” O’Rourke quipped.