McAllen among cities where Cruz plans to debate O’Rourke

McALLEN — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, challenged Democratic opponent Beto O’Rourke to five debates across Texas, including one in McAllen, over the next three months leading up to November’s election.

The Cruz campaign sent a letter Wednesday to O’Rourke three months after the El Paso congressman challenged Cruz to six debates, including two in Spanish. The letter, written by Cruz adviser Jeff Roe, outlined the following schedule:

>> Aug. 31 in Dallas covering jobs, taxes, federal regulations and national economy;

>> Sept. 14 in McAllen covering immigration and border security, criminal justice and the Supreme Court;

>> Sept. 21 in San Antonio covering foreign policy and national security;

>> Oct. 5 in Houston covering energy, trade and the Texas economy;

>> Oct. 12 in Lubbock covering health care and Obamacare.

“I am encouraged that Sen. Cruz has decided that he’s ready to debate the issues,” O’Rourke said in a written statement Wednesday afternoon. “Our campaign looks forward to working with his campaign to finalize the mutually agreed upon details.”

Roe wrote in Wednesday’s letter that the debates would all take place on Friday evenings due to the Senate being in session during that time. Each debate would be an hour long and formats would vary, Roe wrote.

“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.”

These proposed debates would be in English, Roe wrote. In May, when the O’Rourke campaign challenged Cruz to six debates, two in Spanish, the junior senator said his Spanish “remains lousy.”

While the campaigns coordinate debate logistics, O’Rourke will be in the Rio Grande Valley for a mid-August weekend during his month-long road trip while the U.S. House of Representatives is on recess.

The Senate has just one week off in the beginning of the month, and Cruz currently has nothing scheduled in South Texas during that stretch.

mferman@themonitor.com