Dem challenger: ‘I don’t think that Ted Cruz is an a--hole’

Dem challenger: ‘I don’t think that Ted Cruz is an a--hole’
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Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate GOP set to vote on Trump's Supreme Court pick before election Supreme Court fight pushes Senate toward brink Crenshaw looms large as Democrats look to flip Texas House seat MORE's (R-Texas) Democratic challenger says in a new interview that he doesn't "publicly" believe Cruz is an "asshole," apparently walking back the sentiment from a recent appearance on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher."

Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeJimmy Carter says his son smoked pot with Willie Nelson on White House roof O'Rourke endorses Kennedy for Senate: 'A champion for the values we're most proud of' 2020 Democrats do convention Zoom call MORE (D-Texas) told The New York Times's Frank Bruni he was just "moving the conversation along" when he replied "that's true" after Maher told him, “don’t forget, [Cruz is] a giant asshole.”

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“I think I was just moving the conversation along,” O'Rourke said in the interview published Saturday. “Anyhow, I don’t think that Ted Cruz is an asshole.”

“I certainly don’t think that publicly,” he added, when pressed.

O'Rourke is trying to unseat Cruz in a state that hasn't elected a Democratic senator in decades. He outraised the fiery Texas Republican in the first months of 2018.

O'Rourke, a progressive Democrat backed by Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Sanders tells Maher 'there will be a number of plans' to remove Trump if he loses Sirota reacts to report of harassment, doxing by Harris supporters MORE's Our Revolution campaign group, raises his money without accepting donations from PACs.

“Folks, though, will never have to wonder who it is I represent or who I’m voting for,” O’Rourke said on Maher's show last month. “It’s going to be the people of Texas, every single time.”

O’Rourke raised $2.3 million in the first six weeks of 2018 compared to $800,000 raised by Cruz in the same period. Cruz still has an overall cash advantage on his challenger.

Cruz won his first election to Senate in 2012, taking 56.6 percent of the vote to Democrat Paul Sadler's 40.5 percent. In 2016, President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act MORE won the state over Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Trump furor stokes fears of unrest Bloomberg rolls out M ad buy to boost Biden in Florida Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close MORE (D) with 52.6 percent of the vote.