Hundreds of supporters chanted “Build that wall!” as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz entered a room in Tyler on Thursday night.
Cruz made the campaign stop at Sharon Shriners in Tyler on the fourth day of early voting for the Nov. 6 election. More than 600 people showed up, according to the campaign.
Cruz, a Republican, is running for his second six-year term in the U.S. Senate against U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso. O’Rourke held a similar rally earlier that day in another part of Tyler.
Polls have shown Cruz ahead of O’Rourke. However, Cruz’s consistent single-digit lead among likely voters is smaller than what the polls are showing in several other statewide races, such as the governor’s race.
“We’re going to win this race,” Cruz said. “I’ll tell you why I know we’re going to win — because this is Texas, and whenever liberty is threatened, Texans rise to the occasion.”
He told the story from the Battle of Gonzales during the Texas Revolution in which the Mexican government told Texans to return a cannon, and, in an act of defiance, told the Mexican government to “Come and take it.”
Cruz drew a contrast between his and O’Rourke’s views on immigration. Cruz said he wants to build a wall on the Mexican border, and that because O’Rourke does not support the wall, he supports open borders.
He pointed to a caravan of migrants that has been traveling through Central America and moving north toward the U.S-Mexico border. President Donald Trump has described the situation as a national emergency and said he will send hundreds of military troops, according to The Associated Press.
“I’m told that tomorrow Beto’s driving down there to lead the caravan,” Cruz said. “For you folks with the tripods, that’s called a joke, so don’t fact-check that,” he told reporters in the room. He turned to the crowd and said, “You have to tell them because sometimes a sense of humor doesn’t always work with our friends in the media.”
Cruz asked the crowd to be vocal about their support for him, including on social media; to donate to the campaign, because O’Rourke has been outraising him; to volunteer for the campaign so it can mobilize behind his message; and to bring 10 different people each to the polls with them.
“The hard left — they’re angry,” Cruz said. “They’re filled with rage. Many of them are filled with hatred for the president, and it’s going to result in record-shattering Democratic turnout in November.”
In an interview, Cruz condemned recent attempted bombings against critics of Trump, including former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former Vice President Joe Biden.
“There’s no excuse for violence,” Cruz said. “Violence is never OK from anywhere in the political spectrum. Disagreement is fine. It’s healthy in a democracy to have disagreements, but we need to be able to disagree in a way that reflects civility, reflects decency, and violence and attempts at violence, that’s not who we are as Americans.”
Cruz also commented on whether politicians have a responsibility to bring civility to politics, and a comment he made that, “There were a lot of tears, there was a lot of crying, and that was just among the reporters,” at Trump’s rally in Houston on Monday.
“I think everyone should express civility, but I do think you can have a sense of humor,” Cruz said. “I mean there are people who are stultifying; you can’t crack a joke about the media crying at a Trump rally.
“My advice to everyone on both sides of the political aisle is that everyone should just lighten up, have a little bit of fun. Let’s talk about what works and what doesn’t. I welcome a vigorous debate on low taxes or high taxes, which is better.
“But particularly in this era, this is a divided time, a polarized time, there’s a lot of anger and rage, and my advice to conservatives has been, be happy warriors,” he said. “Be joyful. Have fun, and don’t respond to anger with anger.”