Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, is accepting Republican incumbent Ted Cruz‘s proposal to debate five times over the next three months, though O’Rourke also is suggesting a few changes to the plan — including having a sixth debate in his hometown of El Paso.
“I look forward to debating Senator Cruz and am grateful for the schedule you have proposed,” O’Rourke wrote in a letter Friday to Cruz strategist Jeff Roe. “I would suggest only a few small changes.”
Cruz’s campaign quickly responded to O’Rourke, saying the plan “isn’t an open negotiation” but that it would be willing to swap out one of the five previously named cities for El Paso.
Cruz had proposed holding the debates on Friday evenings, citing the Senate schedule, but O’Rourke suggested having at least three on another weeknight or a Sunday evening. O’Rourke also asked Roe if they could move the Aug. 31 debate in Dallas that Cruz offered to October so “we are likely to reach more Texans closer to when they make their decision at the polls.” In addition, O’Rourke suggested broadening the format of the five debates Cruz proposed, each of which the senator’s campaign said would be about a different policy area.
“At each debate, our fellow Texans should be able to raise any issue and do so in an unscripted town hall format,” O’Rourke wrote. “Those issues should include ones you have already proposed and those you did not, including, but not limited to: serving our veterans, public education, money in politics, farming and ranching, the environment, civil rights and social security.”
In his response, Roe did not directly address O’Rourke’s suggestion to move the Dallas debate to October, but did end the letter by saying he looks forward to seeing the candidate “on August 31 in Dallas.” Roe also did not directly address O’Rourke’s push for the town hall format but did say most of the topics O’Rourke mentioned “will already be included in the broad topics” Cruz initially outlined.
The swapping of letters Friday is the latest in a back and forth over debates that began in April, when O’Rourke challenged Cruz to six debates, including two in Spanish.