In Texas, Beto and Cruz take the fight to the border

In Texas, Beto and Cruz take the fight to the border

Beto O’Rourke campaigns in Austin. (Photo: Holly Bailey/Yahoo News)

sought to make the campaign a referendum on immigration.’ data-reactid=”32″>“There’s never been a better time for us to be alive, to be from Texas and to be from the U.S.-Mexico border,” O’Rourke, a congressman from El Paso, declared as he took the stage, offering an unusual split screen moment in the final days of a contentious midterm election when Republicans, including his rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, have sought to make the campaign a referendum on immigration.

While it’s still unclear exactly where the caravan is headed — or how many people will still be walking with the group when or if they reach the U.S. — Brownsville is the closest port of entry to where migrants are now, and in the hours before O’Rourke’s stop, the first of what is expected to be at least 800 troops arrived here, deployed by Trump to confront what he has described as an “invasion.”

But O’Rourke, who has attracted national attention even while consistently trailing Cruz in the polls, dismissed Trump’s decision to deploy troops as just politics. “This desire to stir paranoia and fear on the part of the American public is a political ploy five days away from the deciding election of our lifetimes,” the congressman said. “That’s all that it is, and the people of Texas need to remember that. We don’t need troops on the border.”

Beto O’Rourke campaigns in Brownsville. (Photo: Holly Bailey/Yahoo News)

It was a message that O’Rourke repeated again and again Thursday as he spent a day traveling deep into the Rio Grande Valley, a remote region of Texas where roughly 90 percent of the residents are Hispanic. Statewide candidates rarely campaign here, in part because it’s so hard to get to. But also, there’s not much payoff. In the last several campaigns, barely 20 percent of those eligible have turned out to vote.

But in this campaign, the Rio Grande Valley has become a priority for both Democrats and Republicans.

After a poor showing in the Democratic primary, where he lost many counties here to a largely unknown Latino candidate, O’Rourke has made dozens of appearances in the region, hoping to stir what many have described as a sleeping giant of Latino voters to the polls by pushing back against Trump’s inflammatory remarks about Mexican immigrants.

noted that he’s the real Hispanic in the race. “Listen, the O’Rourke campaign clearly hopes voters think he’s Hispanic,” Cruz told the Houston Chronicle. “He’s not.”’ data-reactid=”50″>At a stop earlier this week, Cruz took a shot at O’Rourke, an Irish American who has gone by the Spanish nickname for “Robert” since his childhood. Cruz, the son of a Cuban immigrant, noted that he’s the real Hispanic in the race. “Listen, the O’Rourke campaign clearly hopes voters think he’s Hispanic,” Cruz told the Houston Chronicle. “He’s not.”

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