Live coverage: Cruz, O'Rourke clash in Texas debate

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz228 Republican lawmakers urge Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade GOP, Democrats battle over masks in House, Senate Human rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action MORE (R-Texas) and Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) clashed in the first of three debates Friday night in a race that has captured immense national attention amid the fierce battle for the Senate.

See The Hill's live updates from the hourlong debate below and read our five takeaways from the first debate here.


Fiery debate ends on positive note

8 p.m.

Both candidates were asked to say what they admire about their opponent.

O'Rourke on Cruz: "We were both elected in the same year, we both have young children. I know how hard he works, what a sacrifice it is to his family. ... He wants to serve this country. ... We have differences of opinions on the destinations, but no question he wants to do what's best for America."

Cruz on O'Rourke: "Being a dad with young kids is hard, I know the sacrifice you’re putting in. ... Beyond that, I think Congressman O’Rourke is passionate and energetic and believes in what he’s fighting for."

Cruz, O'Rourke tussle over police shootings

7:55 p.m.

Cruz yet again took aim at O'Rourke over his response that a Dallas police officer, who fatally shot an unarmed man in his own apartment, should be fired. He took aim at O’Rourke for what he says is jumping to conclusions.

"It’s a troubling pattern," Cruz said. "He sides against the police."

O’Rourke later lashed out at Cruz for what he described as scare tactics.

“That’s why people don’t like Washington, D.C.,” O’Rourke said. “This is your trick and trade, to confuse and incite with fear.”

Clash over 'thoughts and prayers'

7:45 p.m.

When discussing guns and school safety, O'Rourke said that "thoughts and prayers are not enough."

Cruz shot back: "I'm sorry that you don't like thoughts and prayers, I'll pray for anyone in harm's way" and then work to make schools safer. 

O'Rourke addresses past drunk driving arrest

7:37 p.m.

O'Rourke was asked about a recent report that he tried to leave the scene in his past 1998 arrest for drunk driving. O'Rourke denied that.

"I did not try to leave the scene of the accident," O'Rourke said. "Driving drunk, which I did, was a terrible mistake."

The congressman also used his response to talk about his "privilege" as a white man and talked about how African-Americans who face arrests should also get a "second chance."

Cruz puts the past behind him on Trump

7:34 p.m.

A debate moderator pressed Cruz about his contentious relationship with President TrumpDonald TrumpMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine Trump testing czar warns lockdowns may be on table if people don't get vaccinated Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' MORE during the 2016 GOP presidential primary but his vocal support for him now.

Cruz said there were some “hard shots thrown” in the GOP primary, but that he made a deliberate choice to work with the president. 

"I could have chosen to make it about myself," Cruz said. "I think that would have been not doing the job I was elected to do."

Cruz also took a swipe at O'Rourke, claiming he'd vote to impeach Trump over the July summit in Helsinki between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, which stoked backlash over Trump's handling of the meeting.

"The moderate Democratic Party is consumed with hatred for Donald Trump," Cruz said.

Cruz repeatedly invokes Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClintons, Stacey Abrams meeting Texas Democrats Biden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote MORE

7:25 p.m. 

Cruz invoked a familiar GOP boogeyman — Hillary Clinton.

The Republican senator said O'Rourke was against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh even before sexual misconduct allegations were levied against him, saying that O'Rourke is siding with Clinton and liberal activists on judges.

O'Rourke said that he doesn't think Kavanaugh is fit to serve on the bench, pointing to his "troubling history" on voting rights protections.

Cruz said he wants both Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, to testify before the Senate.

O'Rourke said he wants the FBI to investigate the allegations: "full stop."

Immigration becomes heated flashpoint

7:15 p.m.

Cruz, who called for building a border wall, accused O'Rourke of being "out of step with Texas" on the issue of immigration. 

"His focus seems to be fighting for illegal immigrants," Cruz said. "Americans are dreamers too."

O'Rourke said that he believes there should be an "earned path to citizenship" for "Dreamers," immigrants who came to the country illegally as children.

"The alternative, as Sen. Cruz has proposed, is to deport 11 million people from this country," O'Rourke said.

Stage set for first debate

6:35 p.m.

In less than half an hour the candidates are set to take the stage in their first debate, which is expected to focus on domestic policy.

Friday night's debate is held in Dallas and hosted by the Dallas Morning News, Southern Methodist University and KXAS-TV.