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September 18, 2018

These would be fighting words in Texas, if anyone were taking them seriously.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced this silly line of attack against his Democratic rival, Rep. Beto O'Rourke, at a campaign rally on Saturday, responding to PETA handing out barbecued tofu outside. "So I got to say, they summed up the entire election: If Texas elects a Democrat, they’re going to ban barbecue across the state of Texas," he said. "You want to talk about an issue to mobilize the people." The audience laughed.

Cruz didn't explain what tofu has to do with O'Rourke or Democrats, or how a U.S. senator would outlaw barbecue in a state, but in a speech a week earlier, he said liberals wanted to make Texas "just like California, right down to tofu and silicon and dyed hair." Cruz spokeswoman Emily Miller, who once called O'Rourke a "triple meat Whataburger liberal," echoed Cruz's barbecue line, just to show he wasn't entirely joking, tweeting: "Texas on the brink of #AbolishBBQ if voters don't #KeepTexasRed."

"Cruz's words may have been in jest — the suggestion that O'Rourke, an El Paso Democrat, is an an enemy of barbecue is clearly a straw man made of tofu — but that doesn't mean they didn't have the serious purpose of further planting an image in voters' minds of O'Rourke as a candidate outside the mainstream of Texas values," explains Jonathan Tilove at the Austin American-Statesman.

O'Rourke hasn't bothered chasing Cruz's barbecue conspiracy, tweeting instead about expanding Medicaid and protecting health care coverage from Republicans — and lemonade, which he clearly doesn't want to ban.

Anyway, watch for some anti-lemonade angle in Cruz's next attack. Peter Weber

September 4, 2018

Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) ended a 34-day road trip around Texas at a homecoming event in El Paso on Sunday. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the man he is trying to unseat, released a video on Monday with a "lighthearted reminder" that O'Rourke used the F-word at some of his 100 campaign events across the state.

For those of you not keeping score, historian Kevin M. Kruse recaps Cruz's case against O'Rourke:

O'Rourke, who trails Cruz by about 4 percentage points in the RealClearPolitics polling average, released a Labor Day video about labor. It is safe for work, and you can watch below. Peter Weber

August 20, 2018
Chris Covatta/Getty Images

Rep. Beto O'Rourke's (D-Texas) campaign is heating up, in part thanks to his odious opponent.

O'Rourke is running to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and the gap between the two candidates keeps shrinking. BuzzFeed News on Monday noted that an important part of O'Rourke's growing popularity is a growing disdain for Cruz, as voters tire of his pompous politics and support for President Trump.

The Senate hopeful isn't putting all his eggs in one Cruz-hating basket, though: O'Rourke has run an impressively energetic campaign, BuzzFeed News notes, driving all over Texas to drum up support from apathetic Democrats and moderate voters. The grassroots effort has raised more than double Cruz's fundraising haul, without taking any money from PACs, which BuzzFeed News describes as politically enthralling to voters who feel frustrated by politicians' assumptions that Texans will always vote red.

For voters that feel left behind by Cruz, O'Rourke is an exciting alternative, convincing crowds that establishment politics don't have to be so divisive and cynical. That notion is popular among moderate voters and even some wary Republicans who worry that Cruz's reputation slows down any hope of progress. "They hate [Cruz] in Washington," one voter in Abilene, Texas, told BuzzFeed News. "So how's he supposed to get anything done?"

Despite some Texans' appreciation of Cruz's anti-abortion and pro-Second Amendment politics, many are disenchanted with his sanctimonious style. "I'm not a Democrat," said another Abilene voter. "But I'm sure as heck not voting for Ted Cruz." Read more at BuzzFeed News. Summer Meza