|Screw 'Beto', his sombrero, and the burro he rode in on.|
Posted by: TEEBONE ® |
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In final sprint for Beto O'Rourke and Ted Cruz, Texas' direction at stake and Trump on their minds
Updated at 3 p.m.: Revised to include information from Cruz event in Cypress and O'Rourke event in Dallas
CYPRESS -- With the hours ticking down before polls open on Election Day, the rivals for Texas' coveted U.S. Senate seat made a final pitch to supporters, the fates of Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Beto O'Rourke resting on the state's shifting demographics and political climate, and on sharply contrasting views of President Donald Trump.
Cruz drew a crowd of 175 to the First Baptist Church in Pearland, a Houston suburb, leaving the sanctuary mostly empty. "We're one day away from Election Day," he told his supporters, continuing a daily countdown he employs in stump speeches to rev up voters.
Hours later at a barbecue restaurant in Cypress, a crowd twice that size roared in agreement when he warned that if O'Rourke gets his way, the Supreme Court would be filled by justices "who'll take away your religious liberty, who'll take away your Second Amendment."
At the House of Blues in downtown Houston, about 400 cheering Democrats gathered at 8 a.m. to see O'Rourke's final event in Cruz's hometown, two blocks from the Toyota Center, where Trump had rallied 16,000 Republicans for the embattled incumbent last month.
Turnout, he said, has been "off the charts" in Houston and Harris County. "The cynics and the pundits and the pollsters and those that get paid to read the tea leaves on these elections [were saying], isn't Texas a red state? Can a guy from El Paso, Texas -- can he really win this?"
"You better believe it!" a man in the crowd shouted.
Texans haven't elected a Democrat statewide since 1994. But polls show O'Rourke has closed the gap in the final days of the campaign.
The record $70 million that poured into his campaign from donors in Texas and around the country has funded an advertising blitz and an army of door-knocking campaign workers. Black and white "Beto" signs have sprung up like wildflowers in the suburbs and corners of Texas where Democratic support has been invisible for a generation.
"If the whole country could vote, he absolutely would win," said Elizabeth Hanks, 37, a Houston attorney.
Cruz warned of the risks if Republicans stay home, because Democrats "are filled with hatred and rage for the president. And that's dangerous."
He predicted victory, though, "because this is Texas, and in Texas it is in our DNA, it is in our character, to defend liberty."
Speaking with reporters in Cypress, he acknowledged that "of course" he has contemplated the possibility of defeat, because that's the nature of elections and "I respect the democratic process. Ultimately, I trust the wisdom and good judgment of the people of Texas."
Cruz held rallies Monday in Pearland, Cypress and Atascocita -- all on the outskirts of Houston -- in a last-minute effort to bolster conservative enthusiasm to stave off the O'Rourke surge. His final rally Monday night was set for the Redneck Country Club in suburban Stafford, a go-to venue for his campaigns over the years.
After the rally in Houston, O'Rourke moved to Dallas for a rally with 1,500 at the Magnolia Park Cities Hotel. The Democrat planned to cap his campaign Monday night with an event at the University of Texas at El Paso.
In Dallas, O'Rourke's festive rally featured appearances from pop music star Kelly Rowland, U.S. Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas and Marc Veasey of Fort Worth, state Rep. Rafael Anchia and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
"If people keep turning out at the rates that we've seen, I'm confident that we will win," O'Rourke said.
"I haven't been able to bring myself to say it, but I will now," Anchia said. "He's going to win. Beto is going to win."
O'Rourke has made turning out North Texas voters a core element of his campaign, particularly Dallas County, where a trove of Democrats and independent votes could propel him to an upset victory. He campaigned aggressively in the final stretch, with block walks across the area and a Saturday night rally in lowest Greenville.
Early voting in Dallas County shattered records, easily outpacing the 2014 midterms. O'Rourke contends that high turnout across the state bodes well for him.
"You have inspired us. You've given me more hope than I thought I could feel," he told supporters. "You've met the darkness and disappointment that some of us have felt following the election almost two years ago with your power and your joy, with the intensity of your commitment."
Asked if he had message for Cruz, O'Rourke said, "Not really. We appreciate his public service and wish him and his family the best going forward."
In Houston at the House of Blues, Houston resident Brianna Mills, 39, wore a sweatshirt emblazoned on the back with the message "I REALLY CARE, DON'T U?" -- a reference to the jacket first lady Melania Trump wore to see the conditions faced in Texas by migrant children separated from their parents. The first lady's jacket said, "I really don't care, do you?"
"I'm disgusted with what Trump is doing," with migrants and on most every issue, Mills said. "The major issue for me is Donald Trump."
In Cypress, Cruz supporters remained upbeat.
"He's saying all the right things - cut taxes, get rid of the debt, put up the wall. Get rid of the liberals who would spend all our money," said Jeanne Taylor, 71, a retired insurance saleswoman. "There are so many people like me that are so tired of what's going on."
"Anybody [who] knows anything about Beto, you wouldn't vote for him," said Bruce Howell, 64, who retired from the local appraisal district.
His wife, Mary Howell, 65, doubts Democrats' claims of a surge in support from young voters, noting that their 22-year-old grandson backs Cruz. "There are more secret young people than we think," she said.
In Pearland, Cruz's small crowd didn't worry Jessica Johnson, 51, who's studying for a master's degree in energy law.
"Most people are working on a Monday morning," she said, adding that Cruz "is doing great. Senator Cruz speaks for the majority of Texans -- specifically landowners, oil and gas, the ones who care about growing the economy."
"I was surprised the crowd wasn't as large," said Roy Grasha, 74, a retired stockbroker who lives a short walk from the church in Pearland.
But he said, "I think he's going to win. There are so many people like myself that don't go to protests, but we vote. That's why Trump won."
Gromer Jeffers Jr. reported from Dallas. Washington bureau chief Todd J. Gillman reported from suburban Houston.
LIBERTY HAS NO EXPIRATION DATEDemocrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.
Modified by TEEBONE at Tue, Nov 06, 2018, 18:08:25
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