Elections

‘If we stay home, we could lose the state of Texas,’ Cruz tells Fort Worth supporters

Texas State Sen. Ted Cruz speaks at a rally in the Fort Worth Stockyards on Friday, making a last-minute plea for supporters.
Texas State Sen. Ted Cruz speaks at a rally in the Fort Worth Stockyards on Friday, making a last-minute plea for supporters. Bob Booth

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz stopped at the Stockyards Friday, making a last minute plea for supporters in this reddest of counties to head to the polls — starting Monday, the first day of early voting, or on Election Day — and vote Republican up and down the ballot.

Cruz rallied hundreds of Republicans, saying he expects a record turnout for Democrats, even in Texas, and said that needs to be countered by those on the right.

“We’ve got to make sure that common sense conservatives show up,” he said after the rally. “The danger that we face is complacency.

“If we stay home, we could lose the state of Texas. I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Many across the country are watching Cruz’s re-election bid that has turned into a fierce race against Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso..

This is one of the most expensive races across the country. But many wonder whether O’Rourke can win a statewide race in Texas, something no Democrat has done in more than two decades.

Stacey Robbins was among those in the Stockyards. Many had never attended a rally for the state’s junior senator.

“This is a turning point,” the 46-year-old woman from Eagle Mountain Lake said. “We need this — what Ted Cruz is doing, what he’s saying.

“He’s great, a down to earth guy and a Christian. That’s big for us.”

Cruz’s visit comes one week after O’Rourke held a rally several blocks away at Marine Park.

A Quinnipiac University poll last week showed that Cruz holds a 9 percentage point lead over O’Rourke. The next day, O’Rourke reported raising $38.1 million, triple the $12 million Cruz reported raising in the third quarter.

Trump’s support

Cruz’s Fort Worth rally comes just days before President Donald Trump will be in Houston campaigning for him Monday night at a Make America Great Again rally. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick are scheduled to speak at the event as well.

Cruz said the president’s visit has already generated “enormous excitement and enthusiasm” and he expects a crowded house.

“The people of Texas are excited about what we’ve accomplished over the past two years,” he said. “We’ve seen historic tax cuts, we’ve repealed job-killing regulations. The economy in Texas is booming.”

He acknowledged that Trump’s endorsement of him may turn some away.

“There are certainly some on the far left who are blinded by hatred, who are filled with rage and fury for the president,” he said. “But you know what? They are already angry.

“The good news is, in Texas, there are a whole lot more conservatives than liberals. What we are doing is working.”

Cruz and O’Rourke squared off earlier this week in their final debate, each attacking the other’s credibility and more. At one point, O’Rourke criticized Cruz, echoing a nickname President Donald Trump called him — “Lyin’ Ted” — during the 2016 GOP primary. He has since questioned whether he should have said that, adding “perhaps in the heat of the moment I took a step too far.”

“We need some civility in our politics,” said Joe Wilkinson, a 65-year-old Weatherford man who attended Friday’s rally. “It’s unfortunate we’ve gotten away from that.

“I hope going forward we can come together as a country.”

Fort Worth rally

The crowd of supporters greeted Cruz with a standing ovation and stayed on their feet for his nearly half-hour speech, in which he touched on the issues of taxes, health care, immigration and more.

The rowdy group frequently burst into chants of “Ted, Ted, Ted,” especially after a man who was eventually escorted out of the room booed through much of the beginning of the speech.

Cruz touched on the Second Amendment — “I’m for it, (O’Rourke’s) against it” — as well as Israel and how he “made the case directly to the president that we needed to move our embassy to Jerusalem. “

Cruz said the Senate race could be boiled down to one sentence: “He wants to abolish ICE. I want to abolish the IRS.”

“There are about 90,000 employees at the IRS,” he said. “I want to take all 90,000 and put them down at our southern border.

“Imagine you traveled thousands of miles in the blazing sun ... and the first thing you see is 90,000 IRS agents. You’d turn around and go home too.”

Early voting for the Nov. 6 mid-term election begins Monday.

And Cruz encouraged supporters to head to the polls and take their friends and neighbors too.

“We are three weeks out from this election. and we’ve got a fight on our hands,” Cruz said. “When we turn out conservatives, we are going to win races up and down the ballot.

“We are going to turn people out. And the reason I know is every time freedom is under assault, the people of Texas have one and only one response, which is ‘Come and take it.’ ”

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley

At their final scheduled debate, Rep. Beto O'Rourke was the first to answer an early question on border control. Per debate rules, Sen. Ted Cruz was allowed a response, but appeared to seek the opportunity for a second rebuttal.

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