Beto O'Rourke says he may have gone 'a step too far' for calling Ted Cruz 'Lyin' Ted'

CNNDemocratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas.
  • Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke recently called Republican Sen. Ted Cruz “Lyin’ Ted,” the same nickname Donald Trump used against Cruz during the 2016 Republican primaries
  • O’Rourke said the disparaging remarks may have been made “in the heat of the moment.”
  • “It’s not something that I feel totally comfortable with,” O’Rourke admitted.

Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas said that some of the disparaging remarks he made during a lively debate this week against his Republican rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, may have been made “in the heat of the moment.”

Speaking at a televised CNN event in McAllen, Texas, on Thursday, O’Rourke recounted the debate with the incumbent senator earlier this week, in which he labelled Cruz as “Lyin’ Ted.”

“Senator Cruz won’t be honest with you,” O’Rourke said on Monday. “He’s dishonest. It’s why the president called him ‘Lyin’ Ted’ and it’s why the nickname stuck. Because it’s true.”

Cruz brushed off O’Rourke’s remarks and said the fact that O’Rourke was reviving the nickname was “clear” evidence that “pollsters have told him to come out on the attack.”

Donald Trump first gave Cruz that moniker during the contentious 2016 Republican primaries. That, among other things became one of the many sources of friction between the two during the general election that year.

Asked on Thursday how he felt about using the nickname, O’Rourke expressed some regret, but suggested it was an efficient way to dispel some of the falsehoods leveled against his campaign.

Ted cruzJoe Raedle/Getty ImagesRepublican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

“There have been untold dollars spent on TV ads that are lies, that are dishonest, trying to scare you about me,” O’Rourke said. “I decided that I can either spend the debate responding to every single dishonest thing that [Cruz] said, or I could make sure that everyone understood exactly what he’s doing.”

“It’s not something that I feel totally comfortable with,” O’Rourke admitted. “And perhaps in the heat of the moment, I took a step too far.”

O’Rourke also denied Cruz’s assertion that his use of the nickname was planned ahead of time, as suggested by pollsters.

“I don’t know that that’s the way I want to be talking in this campaign,” O’Rourke said.

The race for the senate seat is hitting a fever pitch as early voting begins on Monday, the same day Trump is scheduled to headline a campaign rally for Cruz.

Despite lagging in polls, O’Rourke’s campaign raked in over $US38 million last quarter – more than the $US18 million Trump made, and more than triple the $US12 million Cruz took in.

A Quinnipiac University poll conducted earlier this month found Cruz leading by nine percentage points, while a New York Times Upshot/Siena College poll put Cruz ahead by 8 points.

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