Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) must really be feeling the heat in Texas because he’s resorted to flat out lying about his opponent, state Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D). In a new ad, Cruz tries to claim that O’Rourke is “grateful” that people burn the American flag. That couldn’t be further from what O’Rourke actually said.
The new 30-second spot, published on Ted Cruz’s Facebook page, is so heavily edited it’s laughable. It shows a voter asking a question about flag desecration, then jumps to O’Rourke responding, “I think that there is something inherently American about that, and so I’m grateful that people are willing to do that.”
To get that edit, the Cruz campaign had to cut nearly four minutes of O’Rourke speaking, as well as the full context of the question asked.
In the full interaction, the audience member asks O’Rourke about his comments last month that there is “nothing more American” than peacefully protesting for your rights, referring to NFL players protests against racial injustice during the national anthem. O’Rourke’s defense of the protests quickly went viral.
The audience member then mentions a Supreme Court case related to burning the American flag, and says he’s not sure how he would feel if his elected representative knelt on the floor or “supported acts that desecrate our American flag.”
In the four minute response cut out of Cruz’s new ad, O’Rourke clarifies that his view is there is nothing more American than people taking action to stand up for their rights. He praised the troops, as well as activists like the Freedom Riders, Rosa Parks, those who were spat upon at lunch counters, and those who gave their lives to achieve racial equality.
“They did all of that to stand up for the equal treatment under law of everyone,” he said. “People have been willing to nonviolently and peacefully protest to seek political solutions to otherwise intractable problems.” He went on to note that unarmed black men continue to be unjustly killed, and there is often not accountability. “[When] someone is willing to call attention to that, to try to awaken our conscience, to force us to do the right thing in the face of that injustice and violence and to do so peacefully and nonviolently, I think that there is something inherently American about that, and so I’m grateful that people are willing to do that.”
Ironically, the entire unedited exchange can be viewed on Ted Cruz’s YouTube page.
The Dallas News notes that “the Cruz ad focuses on 43 of 143 words from the question, and 24 of 615 words from the answer.” O’Rourke spokesman Chis Evans also highlighted the fact that in his answer, the candidate “never once talked about burning flags,” the very thing Cruz ad claims to be about.
The new ad follows a long weekend of the Texas Republican Party trying to attack O’Rourke for being cool, like the fact that he skateboards and used to be in a band.
Cruz has previously criticized O’Rourke for his willingness to applaud people who protest for racial equality, including NFL players who kneel for the anthem. After the initial clip of O’Rourke speaking about those issues went viral, Cruz tried to attack him in an ad featuring a veteran calling on a crowd to stand for the anthem. The ad concludes, “In November, where will you stand?”
But if Cruz thinks that he can win by appealing to the patriotic spirit of those who oppose nonviolent protests for racial equality, it’s unclear why he thinks he needs to so flagrantly lie about his opponent’s position.