Senate candidates Cruz, O'Rourke square off in fractious debate

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"This goes to the heart of massive policy divisions", Mr. Cruz said, noting Mr. O'Rourke opposes Mr. Kavanaugh's nomination.

O'Rourke in turn blasted Cruz for supporting massive deportations of illegal immigrants.

Enten appeared on CNN's show "New Day" to discuss the Senate race in Texas, where Democrats are enthusiastic about the prospect of O'Rourke upsetting Cruz in the deep-red Lone Star State. The New York Times reported earlier this month that Mick Mulvaney, a top official in the Trump administration, warned a room of top Republican donors this month that Cruz could lose his re-election bid because he's not "likeable" enough. They'll face off in Dallas at Southern Methodist University.

"People who became convicts exclusively by dint of the color of their skin in a system that was radically unjust", O'Rourke continued. "When he speaks, people take that to heart", Murphree said, calling O'Rourke's remarks "insulting to me as a citizen of this state and as a police officer".

The second debate will be in Houston on September 30.

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The Nov. 6 elections will determine whether Republicans will retain control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

O'Rourke's candidacy has drawn large crowds in Texas and a following among progressives nationally.

The candidates also differed regarding the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, which has engulfed Washington recently with a thinly sourced allegation of sexual misconduct by Mr. Kavanaugh more than three decades ago made by Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor. He also showed on screen, however, a recent Quinnipiac University poll that shows Cruz leading O'Rourke by nine points, 54 percent to 45 percent.

Alternating yard signs for Cruz and O'Rourke line the front lawns in the neighborhood, which is not unlike other areas of the country where Republicans find themselves on defense in 2018, facing voters that have traditionally voted Republican but may be disillusioned with the first years of the Donald Trump presidency.

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