August 30, 2018 1038 AM
ODESSA – The industrial lighting suspended from the banquet hall ceiling flickered while Sen. Ted Cruz addressed hundreds of supporters at the Barn Door Steakhouse in this booming oilfield city.
The room was nearly full at the senator’s town hall event where attendees either sat or stood to hear Cruz support conservative values. Despite the fact that Republicans control the House, Senate and the Presidency, the room was filled with angst.
It was apparent by observing the reaction of the crowd, and hearing their concerns, that the “blue wave,” a term often used to describe the Democrats potentially re-taking legislative seats, unnerved them.
Cruz began his speech on Saturday night acknowledging the death earlier in the day of Arizona Sen. John McCain, a man he said he had political disagreements with but respected. Cruz pivoted to his stump speech where he repeatedly stated his main priorities: tax cuts, regulatory reform, repealing ‘Obamacare,’ and judges. These efforts, according to Cruz, are all under attack by the most extreme Democratic Party he has ever encountered. “They have all gone nuts,” said Cruz, a statement that was well received by the crowd.
His speech lasted about 30 minutes and in that time, he covered issues ranging from political gridlock, Second Amendment rights, the economy and school safety.
“The only way to make schools safer is to have more armed police officers,” said Cruz, when asked by an attendee on how he plans to stop school shootings. He also suggested shrinking the number of school entrances.
It was not until a member of the audience asked him about his Democratic opponent, Congressman Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, did Cruz mention him. The latest polling shows O’Rourke trailing Cruz by a single percentage point.
Cruz considers O’Rourke to be running a “hard-left” campaign, and admits that O’Rourke is out-raising him, yet failed to mention O’Rourke’s refusal to accept corporate PAC money.
Cruz also attacked O’Rourke’s recent remarks in defense of NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem as a form of civil rights protest against institutional racism and police brutality. Cruz infers these gestures as disrespectful to the military and the flag, but his comments caused a cacophony of agreement from the crowd, who just like Cruz see this as disrespectful.
“I am afraid what Beto will do to this state,” said Dallas Kennedy, an Odessa High School teacher. “I think the things he wants to do sound nice, but it’s going to bankrupt the country.”
Another attendee, Gilbert Mendoza voted for Cruz during the 2016 presidential primary and hopes to one day see the Senator become a Supreme Court Justice. Mendoza works in the oil and gas industry and is concerned with the number of “liberals,” coming from California to Texas to work. “They are bringing their liberal views to Texas, “explained Mendoza. “If Texas becomes a blue state, I fear for me and my family, it won’t be the same.”