After weeks of wrangling over when and if they would debate, Sen. Ted Cruz and Congressman Beto O'Rourke finally took the stage together Friday night in Dallas for the first of three debates. The one-hour event from Southern Methodist University featured moderators posing questions to the candidates. Topics included immigration, gun control, healthcare, taxes, and NFL players kneeling for the national anthem.
On immigration, O'Rourke called for citizenship for younger illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, often referred to as "Dreamers." "To ensure that we begin by freeing Dreamers from the fear of deportation by making them U.S. citizens, so they can contribute to their full potential," he said.
Cruz replied by accusing O'Rourke of putting the rights of non-citizens over Americans. "Americans are Dreamers also, and granting citizenship to 12 million people who are here illegally is a serious mistake, which I think Congressman O'Rourke is out of step with Texas on," he said.
On healthcare, O'Rourke called for expanding Medicaid in Texas and ensuring "universal, high quality healthcare for every child, woman and man in this state and every state in the union." Cruz accused O'Rourke of ignoring Texans who have seen skyrocketing healthcare premiums and proposing "socialized medicine" as the only solution.
Cruz also ripped O'Rourke for praising NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem, while O'Rourke argued it's American to protest injustice.
On the issue of gun control, O'Rourke defended the Second Amendment, but also called for gun control measures, telling Cruz "thoughts and prayers aren't enough." Cruz responded that he's happy to pray for anyone in harm's way, but that he also is doing something about mass shootings by supporting increased security measures and law enforcement presence in schools.
The second debate will be Sunday Sept. 30 at the University of Houston. The third is Oct. 16 in San Antonio.