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NFL players kneeling during national anthem becomes issue in Texas Senate race

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By John C Moritz, USA TODAY
CORPUS CHRISTI

Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, in a campaign stop Saturday in Corpus Christi, slammed Democratic opponent Beto O’Rourke for siding with the NFL players who’ve chosen to kneel during the national anthem to racial injustice.

Speaking before an enthusiastic crowd of about 500 jammed inside downtown music venue The House of Rock, Cruz rejected O’Rourke’s likening the “take a knee” gesture to the actions of civil rights protesters of the 1960s.

“When Beto O’Rourke says he can’t think of anything more American (than players taking a knee), well I got to tell you, I can,” Cruz said to loud applause.

[post_ads]As an example, Cruz noted that service members on military posts around the nation routinely salute the flag and stand at attention whenever the anthem is played.

In what polls suggest could be an unusually close race for a U.S. Senate seat in Texas, Cruz used the NFL controversy to further highlight the contrast between him and O'Rourke, who is giving up a safe El Paso-based congressional seat to challenge the incumbent Republican.

O'Rourke, who is campaigning in South Texas this weekend, is seeking to be the first Democrat to win a Senate race in 30 years and the first in his party to win any statewide election since 1994.

The Democrat provided the opening at a town hall meeting in Houston last week when he was asked if the players who decline to stand for the anthem are disrespectful. O'Rouke said it wasn't and offered several examples of how gestures of protest brought about social change.

"And so non-violently, peacefully, while the eyes of this country are watching these games, they take a knee to bring our attention and our focus to this problem to ensure that we fix it," he said at the Houston event.

"That is why they are doing it. And I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully, standing up, or taking a knee, for or your rights, anytime, anywhere, in any place."

Cruz said such statements by O'Rourke are generating enthusiasm of Democrats and bringing in record campaign donations from left-leaning supporters nationwide. He acknowledged, as he has in campaign stops around the state, that even though he's a Republican incumbent in a Republican state, he'll likely be outraised and outspent by his Democratic foe.
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But, Cruz quickly added, that he's focusing his efforts on motivating conservative voters while O'Rourke is "doubling down" on what the Republican called liberal policies outside the Texas mainstream.

In a speech that included a question and answer session with the audience and lasted more than an hour, Cruz reminded supporters of the tax cut legislation passed by the Republican-controlled Congress and signed by President Donald Trump.

He credited the tax cut and easing of federal regulations on business for a drop in the unemployment rate both nationwide and in Texas.

"Corpus Christi is the number one exporter of crude oil in North America," Cruz said. "It's not complicated. When you cut taxes and loosen regulations, Texas booms."

Outside of the House of Rock, a smattering of protesters greeted the Cruz supporters by holding up O'Rourke campaign signs.

"I'm very concerned about what they are doing with our health care system," said Maria S. Olivares of Corpus Christi. "It's now all about business and all about profit. The patients are losing out."

Olivares said she also attended an O'Rourke event at the same venue earlier in the campaign.

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Politics - U.S. Daily News: NFL players kneeling during national anthem becomes issue in Texas Senate race
NFL players kneeling during national anthem becomes issue in Texas Senate race
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