O'Rourke targets Cruz with several attack ads a day after debate

Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) released a string of attack ads against opponent Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO'Rourke sweeps through Virginia looking to energize campaign Disney to donate million to rebuild Notre Dame Celebs start opening their wallets for 2020 Dems MORE (R-Texas) Wednesday, a day after the two engaged in a contentious debate in Texas. 

O’Rourke released at least three 30-second ads slamming Cruz’s policies on education, immigration and healthcare

Those were some of the subjects that sparked the most heated exchanges during the debate on Tuesday.

All three of the ads feature O'Rourke addressing the camera as he attacks Cruz.

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“At a time when half of the school teachers in Texas are working a second job just to make ends meet, Ted Cruz wants to take our public tax dollars out of their classrooms, turn them into vouchers. He was the deciding vote in putting Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosGOP lawmaker calls for investigation into alleged 'anti-Israeli bias' at Duke-UNC conference The Special Olympics are safe, but what about other programs DeVos would cut? DeVos defends controversial guidance on transgender students MORE in charge of our children’s public education,” he says in the ad on education. 

In the immigration ad, O'Rourke accuses Cruz of wanting to deport DREAMers, or undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children who were protected from deportation under an Obama-era executive order.

“Republicans and Democrats alike know that we’ve got to lead on immigration reform, and yet Ted Cruz, he’s the only senator to vote against moving forward with that conversation. He’s vowed to deport every single DREAMer. He’s selling paranoia and fear, instead of solutions,” O’Rourke says.

And the Congressman also accuses Cruz of wanting to roll back pre-existing conditions, a popular feature of the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.

“Ted Cruz has voted to take away health care from millions of American families. He’s tried repeatedly to roll back protections for preexisting conditions, and he’s shut down the government for 16 days because he thought too many people had too much health care,” he says in the final ad.

The three ads follow an acrimonious debate in which O’Rourke went on the offensive against Cruz.

"He’s dishonest,” O’Rourke said of Cruz at one point. "That’s why the president called him 'Lyin’ Ted.' And that’s why the nickname stuck. Because it’s true."

The congressman later suggested Cruz "won't stand up" to Trump, who regularly insulted the senator when the two feuded during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Cruz, who has aimed to paint O’Rourke as a far-left ally of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMcAuliffe says he won't run for president in 2020 Chuck Todd slams reports that DOJ briefed Trump on Mueller findings: 'This is actual collusion' Crowdfund campaign to aid historically black churches hit by fires raises over M MORE, took note of his challenger's aggressive tone.

"Well it’s clear Congressman O'Rourke's pollsters told him to come out on the attack," Cruz said.

O’Rourke’s latest ads and debate performance come as O'Rourke has lagged Cruz in the polls, though he leads in fundraising after raising a record $38.1 million in the July-September quarter.

Cruz expressed confidence in his position in the race, telling reporters Wednesday, “I feel very good where we are. I think the people of Texas in the last month have really started to focus on this race.”

Cruz also blasted O’Rourke’s attacks.

“It’s interesting that Congressman O’Rourke likes to talk about bipartisanship, but for him bipartisanship apparently consists of throwing insults, a lot of personal insults last night, and calling for impeaching Trump,” Cruz told reporters. “That’s not bipartisanship.” 

Cruz may receive another boost when Trump arrives in Texas Monday to hold a rally for his one-time foe. 

Trump won Texas by 9 points in 2016 and recent polling shows the president has a positive job approval rating among likely voters. 

“I think it’s very helpful and very beneficial,” Cruz said of Trump’s visit. “The extreme left is really angry. They’re energized and filled with hatred for the president.” 

While The Cook Political Report rates the Texas Senate race as a “toss up,” a RealClearPolitics average of polls in the race shows Cruz with a 7-point lead in the race.