Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Paul Sadler held the first of two planned debates in their battle to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate last night.
The debate, held in Dallas at WFAA, touched on healthcare, immigration, federal spending, foreign policy and taxes as the candidates repeatedly tried to out-lawyer one another.
Cruz repeated his assertion that he would work to repeal the Affordable Care Act if elected, stating that the law puts the United States on a path toward socialized medicine. He stated that socialized medicine leads to low quality, inefficient medical care. Sadler countered that Cruz’s position would put Texans at risk by allowing insurance companies to deny or limit insurance coverage based on preexisting conditions, and would leave many young people currently on their parents’ insurance plans without coverage.
Regarding immigration, Sadler stated that he supports a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Cruz opposes such a pathway and wants to put an end to illegal immigration.
When asked his views on Mitt Romney’s controversial 47 percent remarks, Cruz replied that he doesn’t believe that Texans who receive government assistance view themselves as victims that the government is obligated to care for. He did, however, argue that the Obama administration and Democratic Party of trying to make as many Americans as possible dependent on government aid as a means of staying in power.
The two candidates disagreed over whether the United States should continue to supply aid to Egypt. Sadler stated that he believes continued aid is necessary to preserve Egypt as an ally, while Cruz argued that the US should consider withholding aid to Egypt as a form of leverage to influence their actions following attacks on the American embassy in Cairo.
The issue of taxes generated a heated exchange between the candidates. Cruz accused Sadler of wanting to raise taxes for all Texans. Sadler in turn accused Cruz of speaking frequently about cutting spending without outlining a plan on how he would actually lower the national debt. When Cruz asked Sadler if he had ever considered instituting a state income tax during his tenure in the Texas legislature, Sadler replied that he had to examine every avenue available to raise state revenues but never imagined “some troll” would use his legislative work against him nearly 10 years later.
Both candidates were vague on certain points raised in the debate. Sadler gave no definite answer when asked if Congress should allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, while Cruz gave no direct as to whether he believes President Obama is a Christian who was born in the United States.
Sadler was firm in his desire to debate Cruz six times. Cruz declined to participate in any additional beyond the two already planned, despite his criticisms of Lieutenat Governor David Dewhurst for not appearing in enough debates during their competition in the Republican primary.
A new poll showed Cruz had a 26 point lead over Sadler going into the debate, while one-fourth of registered Texas were undecided.
Sadler and Cruz will debate again on October 19. KUT will be airing the debate live.