Cruz counters O'Rourke's call for six debates with proposal for five

Cruz counters O'Rourke's call for six debates with proposal for five

Texas Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia next week Here's evidence the Senate confirmation process is broken MORE (R) is proposing five debates between him and his Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeBeto O'Rourke, Willie Nelson financially back Texas Democrats in elections bill fight Texans split on whether Abbott deserves reelection: poll O'Rourke considering Texas governor bid: report MORE, after O'Rourke's campaign initially challenged Cruz to six.

Cruz on Wednesday proposed five English-language debates focusing on a variety of topics after previously telling reporters that his Spanish was not good enough for a debate performance, the Texas Tribune reports. O'Rourke had initially requested two of the debates be in Spanish to accommodate Texas's large Hispanic population.

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"As Senator Cruz has long believed, our democratic process is best served by presenting a clear and substantive contrast of competing policy ideas, and these five debates will be an excellent way for both you and the Senator to share your respective visions with Texas voters in the weeks leading up to the November election," Cruz strategist Jeff Roe wrote in a letter to O'Rourke's campaign.

"I am encouraged that Sen. Cruz has decided that he’s ready to debate the issues. Our campaign looks forward to working with his campaign to finalize mutually agreed upon details," O'Rourke responded in a statement to the Tribune.

O'Rourke's campaign first proposed debating Cruz in April, and while Cruz's campaign has expressed openness to debates, the Tribune reports that committing to dates has been largely absent from the conversation.

Representatives for Cruz's campaign knocked O'Rourke's team for imposing an "arbitrary" schedule for setting up debates in a letter earlier this year.

"[Y]our arbitrary timeline for coordinating between the campaigns remains irrelevant to our decision-making process," senior Cruz adviser Bryan English wrote around June, according to the Tribune. "We will let you know when we are ready to discuss the details of joint appearances."

Cruz led his Democratic opponent by just 5 points in a June poll of traditionally red Texas, while O'Rourke's campaign reported earlier this month that it had raised more than $10 million in 3 months, with an average donation of $33, to unseat the Texas senator.