Texas US Senate candidates Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst met in Austin for a debate June 23. The two have met in a few debates now, after Dewhurst reluctantly agreed to it. A pattern has emerged in these meetings that Ted Cruz is a better candidate, a better fit for Texas, and a better human being than his opponent.
Dewhurst seemed awkward and nervous at several points, often appearing to lose his train of thought or to forget a memorized answer. Cruz’ confident delivery showed a man in command of the issues and sure of his own positions on them. Even more, Cruz never appears to have to weigh his own position before stating it, but can quickly respond to new issues as they come up.
A question from the audience showed that voters are wondering why the candidates have thrown so much mud in the campaign. While there have been negative ads from Cruz, they have been oriented around the issues in the campaign. Dewhurst, on the other hand, has focused on vicious personal attacks based on deceit.
Most notably, Dewhurst has based his campaign attacking not Ted Cruz himself, but the clients of the law firm where Cruz works.
A candidate should be able to run on his record, and Dewhurst can’t. He often takes credit for the way things are going in Texas generally, but any progress in the State Legislature has been in spite of his efforts, not because of them. Dewhurst is taking credit for the work of conservative legislators he tried to stop, but couldn’t.
In some cases, as with his cowardly handling of the anti-TSA groping legislation, Dewhurst has managed to block progress. He never mentions those successes.
Now we have a despicable ad from a Dewhurst-affiliated SuperPAC, in which the Dewhurst camp exploits a mother’s grief over the death of her child.
In the debate, after his opening remarks cobbled together from his usual stump speech, Dewhurst was stumbling and appeared nervous. People who are confident in what they are saying don’t have to be nervous.
Campaign allies have chosen to manipulate and exploit a grieving mother. It’s obscene.
“You know perfectly well, Ted, that I have total respect for you, your patriotism,” Dewhurst said reassuringly.
It was too much for Cruz: “Then why does your mailer say different?” he shot back. After all, he was holding in his hand a Dewhurst campaign mail message that his own father had received, with the black-and-white accusation that “Ted Cruz worked against our country.”
I’m guessing that I am not the only Texas reporter who empathized with Cruz’s frustration. Throughout his tenure as lieutenant governor, Dewhurst has displayed a maddening tendency to deny inconvenient facts. Those who challenge him with evidence are dismissed with a wave of the hand. And that’s the end of that.
Fortunately, most Texas Republican voters agree that Cruz is the better candidate.