Throughout his campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, El Paso U.S. Representative Beto O'Rourke has remained unrelentingly positive. Cruz and his campaign have, in ads or in person, called him a socialist, insinuated that he supports flag-burning and painted him as an enemy of law enforcement, but O'Rourke has never budged. In ads, stump speeches and his first debate with Cruz last month, O'Rourke has largely refused to take the bait, going back repeatedly to his talking points about having visited all 254 Texas counties and "being known by our ambitions, rather than being defined by our fears."
Tuesday night's second debate between the two Senate hopefuls promises more of the same. O'Rourke has repeatedly called for civility, going so far as to tweet in support of Cruz when Cruz and his wife, Heidi, were chased out of a restaurant by protesters in Washington, D.C.
Call it post-partisan, or call it a missed opportunity, but O'Rourke has largely tried to parry Cruz's punches, rather than counter them. That's what has made a couple of ads released by the FireTedCruz PAC over the last couple of weeks, including one Monday, so striking. O'Rourke may not want to go negative, or receive any help from PACs, but FireTedCruz, with a little help from Austin director Richard Linklater, sure has found a few gaps in the senator's armor.
Both ads feature actor Sonny Carl Davis, changing his character from Linklater's Bernie. In the first, Davis mocks Cruz for courting President Donald Trump, despite Trump's repeated attacks on his wife and the president's claims that Cruz's father was involved in the Kennedy assassination.
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Monday, Linklater sized up Cruz again and hit him where it hurts, mocking his campaign's bizarre attack on O'Rourke for being a “Triple Meat Whataburger liberal,” whatever that means, and showing a clip from the Senate floor during which Cruz proclaims his love for White Castle. The nearest White Castle to Texas, as Davis points out, is 900 miles away.
"Maybe up in Canada," Davis says, "but not in Texas."