Senate frontrunner Cruz limits debates; Sadler calls him 'cowardly'

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on September 26, 2012 at 7:04 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 26 at 7:04 PM

DALLAS – For Republican U.S. Senate-hopeful Ted Cruz, the role reversal from underdog to favorite has left him open to a charge of hypocrisy from Democrat and challenger Paul Sadler.

Sadler says Cruz is now campaigning like Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst did during the Republican primary, avoiding exchanges before Texas voters. In the months before the May GOP primary and July runoff, Cruz badgered Dewhurst for skipping dozens of candidate forums.

Cruz won the runoff.

But heading into the November election with a big lead in polls and money, Cruz has agreed to just two joint appearances; and that's fine with him.

In Austin Wednesday to get the endorsement of the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Cruz indicated no need to round up more than a pair of debates.

"I'm looking forward to we've agreed to two debates," Cruz said, "I'm looking forward to having a direct and clear contrast between two very different visions for our state and for our nation."  

Sadler said, "He chased Lt. Gov. Dewhurst all across this state and called him everything in the world because he wouldn't debate him and it's a little hypocritical to me."

At the Belo Debate in April, Cruz even kept count, saying, "Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has chosen to skip 32 candidate forums all over the state. But Lt. Gov. Dewhurst believed he didn't have the time to go in front of Texas voters to listen to their questions and defend their record."

Last week, Cruz turned down a third TV debate offer at a Houston PBS station. Sadler says he knows what Cruz is doing. 

"The political strategy is that if you think you're the frontrunner you don't appear,” he said. “You stay out of the limelight because you may make a mistake, you don't want to say the wrong thing. It's a cowardly position to take frankly."

But Cruz, long the underdog, has quickly learned in this heavily Republican state how to fill in the role as strong frontrunner.

"I'm not surprised my opponent is throwing insults at me," he said of Sadler.

Email bwatson@wfaa.com

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