I watched the first scheduled debate between Senator Ted Cruz and his challenger, Rep. Beto O’Rourke Friday night. Held on the SMU campus in Dallas, the two moderators were Julie Fine of NBC-5 and Gromer Jeffers of the Dallas Morning News. Both NBC-5 and the Dallas Morning News were sponsors.

I’ll get right to the most interesting point I heard. When Beto O’Rourke was asked if he did, in fact, flee the scene of the accident that occurred during his drunk driving accident, he said, no, he did not try to leave the scene of the accident. That answer, though, contradicts an eyewitness account of the accident. This is from a report in the Houston Chronicle last month: (emphasis mine)

Although the arrest has been public knowledge, police reports of the September 1998 incident – when the Democratic Senate candidate had just turned 26 – show that it was a more serious threat to public safety than has previously been reported.

State and local police reports obtained by the Chronicle and Express-News show that O’Rourke was driving drunk at what a witness called “a high rate of speed” in a 75 mph zone on Interstate 10 about a mile from the New Mexico border. He lost control and hit a truck, sending his car careening across the center median into oncoming lanes. The witness, who stopped at the scene, later told police that O’Rourke had tried to drive away from the scene.

Hmm. Beto’s denial was a bit of a surprise. The drunk driving charge wasn’t anything new to his current constituents but apparently, the fleeing the scene charge is newly exposed due to his statewide run now. The one eyewitness ( it was 3:00 A.M. on an interstate almost to the New Mexico border) specifically says O’Rourke tried to drive away. Maybe the drunken 26-year-old doesn’t have such a clear memory but there is no reason to doubt the witness, whom I’m assuming was sober.

AP was right in his post about the debate, referenced above. O’Rourke chose to do as he has done throughout the campaign – continue on the path of the farthest left of the lefties. There was no moderate-sounding Beto Friday night. Frankly, both candidates were playing to their base, not to bring in voters from the middle or Independents. It was a red meat extravaganza for a whole hour.

Senator Cruz did well, as you would expect if you have ever watched the man debate. It’s his superpower. Beto O’Rourke tries to sound reasonable but just can’t quite get there. He essentially offers no solutions, only the talking points of the far left that are sending him campaign contributions. Remember, Hollywood loves Beto.

For example, while Beto was re-writing the drunk driving accident and trying to flee the scene, as he gave some humility a shot by expressing regret for the decision to drive drunk, he then turned it into a white privilege issue as he said it was only the fact that he was a white man that he didn’t face jail time. Funny that he didn’t mention that the color of his skin had nothing to do with it – his father was in a race for El Paso County judge (an office he held in the 1980’s) and the arrest happened some 5 weeks out from election day. He father, as a matter of fact, was a political associate of former Texas Governor Mark White, so the political connections ran deep. Spare me the social justice warrior racial mumbo jumbo. O’Rourke was 26 years old at the time and already a graduate of Columbia University, hardly just Beto from the block.

During the questioning of O’Rourke’s recent statement that law enforcement is the new Jim Crow in America, Beto denied making the claim. He mentioned a family member who is in law enforcement and how that charge is not accurate. I’ll note that O’Rourke made the statement at a town hall-type setting on the campus of Praire View A & M here in Houston, a public historically black university. So, yeah, he was pandering to the audience, going to the extreme as he did. (emphasis mine)

“Talking about criminal justice reform, let’s talk about where this problem started,” he said at Prairie View A&M University in Texas. “When contractors needed labor, they would talk to local law enforcement, who would arrest African-Americans for idling, for petty crimes, frivolous offenses. Those contractors would describe the number of bodies that they needed and law enforcement would provide those bodies.”

“That injustice … continues to persist today. That system of suspending somebody solely based on the color of their skin, searching for that person solely based on the color of their skin, stopping that person solely based on the color of their skin, shooting that person solely based on the color of their skin, throwing the book at that person and letting them rot behind bars solely based on the color of their skin is why some have called this — I think it is an apt description — the new Jim Crow,” he said.

This gave Sen. Cruz a perfect opportunity to talk about insulting law enforcement, recent police-involved shootings and police deaths in the line of service. You may remember in Dallas, where the debate took place, in 2016, six police officers were shot and killed by a sniper in one tragic night downtown. Image their loved ones hearing such talk from O’Rourke.

At the end of the debate, the last question before closing statements was one that always makes me gag. “Tell us something you admire about your opponent.” Ugh. This ending up being a chance for both candidates to express admiration for the other’s sacrifices made at the expense of family life. Both men have young children and it does take a toll on them. O’Rourke went first and then Cruz. Cruz responded in kind and then gave a shot to O’Rourke by truthfully stating O’Rourke’s sincerity in his socialist beliefs. Zing! O’Rourke managed to say three words in response: “True to form.” (emphasis mine)

But that softball questions was a golden opportunity to reclaim the high ground, and O’Rourke did.

“We both have young children. I know how hard he works,” he said. “I know what a sacrifice that is to his family. … I have no question that Senator Cruz wants to do the best for America. He does so at great sacrifice to his family and his kids. I thank you, Senator Cruz, for your public service.”

Then came Cruz’s turn. He lauded O’Rourke for his own sacrifices, but couldn’t resist taking a pot shot.

“I think Congressman O’Rourke is passionate, energetic.” Like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. “Bernie Sanders believes in what he is fighting for. He believes in socialism. Now, I think what he is fighting for doesn’t work. But I think you are absolutely sincere, like Bernie. You believe in expanding government and high taxes.

Throughout the debate, O’Rourke was noticeably nervous and not presenting a lot of confidence. He regained some composure as he got those last three words out, though. He really wasn’t much of a match for Cruz in the debate skills department. Cruz was able to bring up the fact that O’Rourke brought up a motion to vote on making all drugs legal while on the El Paso City Council. What? Instead of pushing back with factual information on what he was trying to do there, O’Rourke launched into a screed about the need to legalize medical marijuana and ending the war on drugs in this country. His answer was a hot mess.

For some odd reason, O’Rourke seems to be under the impression that if he keeps repeating that he has visited all of the counties in Texas that he has the upper hand over Cruz. I think I counted four times during the hour that he mentioned that to the audience. It was odd. It did, though, allow Cruz to spotlight some of his travels to Dallas after the police shootings and for police funerals, to Houston and the Gulf Coast of Texas after Hurricane Harvey, to Sutherland Springs after the shooting in the church there, and so on.

Cruz was able to work into his answers that O’Rourke is open to dissolving ICE and wants to give citizenship to all the DREAMers. He also mentioned a couple of times that O’Rourke supports the impeachment of President Trump, though he claims he can work with him in Washington if he is elected to the Senate. Right.

As I said, it was all about red meat for the base, from other candidates. O’Rourke wants single-payer health care for all, universal pre-k, broadband for everyone, and free college for all. He didn’t bother to offer how exactly he pays for all of these giveaways at taxpayer expense other than to say he was against the tax reforms President Trump has delivered on for corporations, small businesses, and individuals. Even on gun rights, O’Rourke was “true to form” as he mentioned that both he and Senator Cruz visited the high school in Santa Fe after the mass shooting tragedy there. O’Rourke recalled a teenage female student who wants gun control while Cruz delivered a story of meeting with students who don’t agree with the gun-grabbers. Also, O’Rourke worked in that “thoughts and prayers just aren’t gonna cut it anymore.” Cruz said that more armed officers in schools are not thoughts and prayers and that he’ll continue to pray for injured victims, the deceased, and their families. This is Texas, y’all. Gun-grabbing lingo isn’t playing too well in this state.

Beto has bought into the public relations idea that he is the next coming of a Kennedy-esque candidate. I truly believe he’ll explore a run for president after this race is over. He dinged Cruz for winning his election to the Senate in 2012 and then immediately began running for president, thereby missing lots of votes while he traveled to “all the counties in Iowa.” There he went again.

True to form. These two men just don’t like each other and aren’t going to fake it during the debates. The next one will be on September 30, 2018, in Houston.