AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The race for Texas’ Senate seat in 2018 received a major development over the weekend.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who is seeking a second term, received the public support of the No. 2 Republican in the Senate: his Texas colleague John Cornyn.
Cornyn made the announcement on Sunday in a rare appearance with Cruz. The pair joined together for an interview at the Texas Tribune Festival.
“I think it’s important to have a unified delegation and I told him [Cruz] I will support him in the next election,” Cornyn said.
The endorsement comes after Cornyn had previously held back on endorsing Cruz. Cruz did not endorse Cornyn when he was seeking re-election in 2014. The senior senator mentioned a recent conversation over breakfast with Cruz after Hurricane Harvey, and said they agreed to set aside their differences to “stand together as a Texas delegation.”
“I think it’s really important, particularly in light of the challenges brought by this huge natural disaster,” Cornyn added.
“There’s no space between Sen. Cruz and me when it comes to doing work for our state,” Cornyn continued.
He explained he thought it was important to send the message that, “when it comes to something like the recovery after this natural disaster, that we [Texans] are going to stand together and not be distracted.”
Cruz’s challenger, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, said on Saturday that Cruz had not held enough town hall meetings, and therefore did not know what constituents want in terms of leadership.
“Tell me something that he’s done,” O’Rourke said.
Meanwhile, Cruz was asked about his challenger, to which he responded, “I don’t think Texans want a far-left Democrat in the Senate.”
Cornyn also revealed that he would run again in 2020 for his seat, which he has held since winning the spot in 2002.
GOP lawmakers are watching the clock as they work to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Their latest legislation is labeled the Graham-Cassidy bill.
Cornyn said he backed it, while Cruz indicated the bill would need more changes before it garnered his support.
Cornyn stated, “what this will do is provide funds that will allow premium support, allow people to get private insurance instead of Medicaid,” before adding that pre-existing conditions would “absolutely” be covered.
With three “no” votes needed to turn the legislation down, and U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., indicating he would not vote yes if the bill stayed as written, Cruz recognized his influence over the decision.
“Last week they [U.S. Sens. Graham and Cassidy] took our edits and we said if you take these edits we are ‘yes,'” Cruz explained. “They took our edits, and then a day later they removed our edits.”
“Right now, they don’t have my vote and I don’t think they have [Utah Republican] Mike Lee’s either,” Cruz stated.
The pair also talked about climate change in the wake of Harvey.
Cruz said Americans must follow the science and data available.
“[In colleges], climate change is taught from one perspective and one perspective only,” Cruz said, explaining that those who disagree with the idea of global warming are ridiculed.
Cornyn said, “I do believe humans have an impact on climate change. The question is, what do we do about it?”
They addressed immigration and border security as well, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).
“My views can be summed up by four words,” Cruz said. “Legal: good. Illegal: bad.”
Cornyn said America is a nation of laws, and that ideal needs to be restored.
“Border security, enforcement — I think there’s a deal to be had,” he stated.
During the conversation, which ran more than an hour, Cruz insinuated that Mexican drug lord “El Chapo” could help pay for the proposed border wall with the money he obtained illegally.
“El Chapo might pay for the wall. And other drug lords might,” he mentioned.
Cruz also called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “bad man,” and a “KGB thug,” when the conversation shifted to Russia’s possible involvement in the 2016 election.
“Russia has worked to undermine our elections. This didn’t start in 2016 this has been going on for decades,” he added.
With many discussions held around the country and on social media about kneeling as the national anthem is played at professional sporting events, Cruz was asked for his opinion.
“I believe in free speech for people I agree with and people I disagree with,” Cruz stated. “Colin Kaepernick has every right to say what he wants to. He has every right. If he wants to disrespect the flag, he can. And the rest of us have right to express our views.”
He continued, “I, for one, am not a fan of rich, spoiled athletes disrespecting the flag.”
The entire conversation can be accessed below, via the Texas Tribune.