U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and his Democratic rival, U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke of El Paso, faced off for their second - and maybe final - debate Tuesday night in San Antonio. Cruz called Trump a "sniveling coward" and refused to endorse him when he spoke at the Republican National Convention, prompting viewers to boo him off the stage.
"He's dishonest", O'Rourke said.
Cruz, one of Trump's fiercest primary opponents that year, has since cultivated a close relationship with the president, despite Trump suggesting that his father was in on the plot to assassinate John F. Kennedy in Dallas and disparaging his wife's physical appearance on the campaign trail.
Cruz laughed off the exchange saying it was obvious that O'Rourke needed to attack to try and reverse polls that show him fading. Trump wrote on Twitter.
"He's dishonest. It's why the president called him "Lyin" Ted, ' and it's why the nickname stuck, because it's true", said the three-term congressman from El Paso, who is trailing the GOP incumbent in the polls.
With Election Day just three weeks away, Tuesday might have been one of O'Rourke's last shots to gain ground.
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O'Rourke is trailing behind Cruz in the latest polls, despite his record-setting $38 million in campaign funds last quarter.
O'Rourke also reprised his attack on Cruz for focusing on his presidential ambitions so soon after he was elected to the U.S. Senate, and criticized the tone of his Republican opponent's campaign.
Cruz took note of the more aggressive posture from O'Rourke, who had been hesitant to attack Cruz while portraying himself as a unifying figure who could bring Texans together, and made reference to O'Rourke's declining standing in the polls. It was the race's last scheduled debate after one in Houston was canceled amid Senate floor votes on Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.
When O'Rourke said he wanted to expand federally funded health care to more Americans, Cruz said the congressman agreed with Vermont Sen. A poll average compiled by Real Clear Politics gives Cruz a lead of 7 percentage points, and a CNN poll published on Tuesday gave Cruz a similar margin. Trump carried the state by almost a million votes in 2016.
Cruz fired back repeatedly, casting O'Rourke as out of touch with the values of Texas voters during a free-swinging debate that turned personal over divisive issues such as healthcare, climate change and the possible impeachment of Trump.
In response to a question about the #MeToo movement, O'Rourke said Cruz "inexplicably" voted against the Violence Against Women Act, saying the senator was "all talk and no action". Cruz said that he "supported funding from the federal government to the states to secure our elections".