President to campaign for Cruz in Texas

McALLEN — President Trump on Friday accepted U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s invitation to campaign for the junior senator in his re-election bid.

“I will be doing a major rally for Senator Ted Cruz in October. I’m picking the biggest stadium in Texas we can find. As you know, Ted has my complete and total Endorsement. His opponent is a disaster for Texas – weak on Second Amendment, Crime, Borders, Military, and Vets!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Neither Trump nor the Cruz campaign revealed any details about the rally beyond Trump’s tweet.

Cruz’s opponent in the senate race is U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, who has been driving across the state campaigning for over a year. O’Rourke has made six Rio Grande Valley visits, most recently a weekend trip on Aug. 18 and 19. Cruz was last in the Valley in June.

The O’Rourke campaign quickly responded to the Trump tweet with a fundraising email.

“This is urgent. Donald Trump just sent his first tweet attacking Beto,” the email read, attaching a screengrab of the president’s first foray into the Texas race.

Trump’s Cruz rally will not take place in the Valley, if the rally holds true to Trump’s stadium idea. The largest stadiums in Texas are in College Station, Austin and the Dallas area.

The rally would bring together the two former political foes. Cruz and Trump were the final two GOP presidential candidates in 2016 until Cruz dropped out of the race. During that campaign, Trump suggested that he had “dirt” on Cruz’s wife and that Cruz’s father, Rafael, was linked to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Cruz condemned those statements and called Trump a “coward.”

At the national GOP convention later on, Cruz later did not formally endorse Trump but eventually threw his support behind him in the presidential election. Now, the two are in regular communication, and many former Cruz staffers work in the White House.

O’Rourke’s massive fundraising has led to some cautious optimism among Democrats that he could compete in the state — even if national Democrats still view Texas as a longshot. (National Democrats believe they have better pickup opportunities in Arizona, Nevada and Tennessee and the party also has several red state Democratic incumbents to defend.)

O’Rourke and Cruz have both raised roughly $23 million. As of the end of the second fundraising quarter on June 30, O’Rourke, who does not accept PAC money, had $14 million on hand compared with Cruz’s $9 million, according to Federal Election Commission documents.

CQ-Roll Call contributed to this report.