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O'Rourke to appear solo in CNN town hall

O'Rourke to appear solo in CNN town hall

Texas Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz urges Supreme Court to take up Pennsylvania election challenge OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration proceeds with rollback of bird protections despite objections | Trump banking proposal on fossil fuels sparks backlash from libertarians | EU 2019 greenhouse gas emissions down 24 percent Trump's NATO ambassador pledges 'seamless' transition to Biden administration MORE (R) has declined an offer to participate in an upcoming CNN town hall while his Democratic Senate challenger Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeMexican president breaks with other world leaders, refusing to acknowledge Biden win until election is finalized Mexico emerging as foreign policy challenge for Biden Beyoncé sports pro-Biden mask on Instagram MORE has agreed to participate, according to the network.

"Sen. Ted Cruz's campaign initially accepted CNN's invitation to participate" but has since declined, CNN said in an announcement. The town hall in McAllen, Texas, on Oct. 18 will be hosted by chief political correspondent Dana Bash.

A spokesperson for Cruz directed The Hill to a tweet by Jeff Roe, Cruz's campaign manager, but declined to comment further.

"To be clear, the Cruz campaign proposed that @CNN host one of the Cruz-O’Rourke debates. The O’Rourke campaign declined. @CNN subsequently offered back to back town halls, in which we are unable to participate," Roe wrote in the tweet.

The network will also be offering up two debates this month: A debate Oct. 16 featuring Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Fearing defeat, Trump claims 'illegal' ballots The Hill's Morning Report - Biden inches closer to victory Senate Democrats want to avoid Kavanaugh 2.0 MORE (D) and his GOP challenger Gov. Rick Scott in the Florida Senate race, which will be moderated by anchor Wolf Blitzer from Tampa, Fla.; and another Oct. 21 between Florida gubernatorial candidates former Rep. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisFlorida become the third state to cross 1 million COVID-19 cases The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans MORE (R) and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), a one-hour debate moderated by anchor Jake Tapper, also from Tampa.

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Cruz was critical of CNN earlier this year after one of its graphics accused him of being "afraid" to go on the network by attending a town hall about school shootings and guns following the Parkland, Fla., mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

"What are they afraid of?" the graphic asked in calling out Cruz, along with Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP urges Trump not to tank defense bill over tech fight Pressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Coast-to-coast fears about post-holiday COVID-19 spread MORE (R-Fla.) and Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.).

 
"You can accuse me of many things, but being afraid of CNN is not one of them," Cruz wrote on Twitter in February.

Cruz and O'Rourke are locked in a tight race in deep-red Texas, with the Republican leading by 6 points in the RealClearPolitics polling index.

--Updated 3:09 p.m.