Members of the Trinity community came together Tuesday night to watch the final debate in the midterm senate race between Republican candidate Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke, which was held in San Antonio at the KENS5 station.
About 10 Tigers for Liberty (TFL) members attended the official watch party for Ted Cruz’ campaign at the Old San Fransisco Steakhouse on Tuesday night. Cruz arrived to speak to the crowd after they watched the debate.
Sophomore Emma McMahan, social chair for TFL, attended the Cruz watch party, which included officials from the Cruz campaign and Chip Roy’s campaign for House District 21.
“We got invited because we block walk for Chip Roy, and he gets endorsed by Ted Cruz. He was actually his former chief-of-staff, so since we’re block walking for Chip Roy some people from the campaign invited us to go see it,” McMahan said.
Isaiah Mitchell, junior and TFL chairman, also attended the Cruz watch party. Mitchell commented on the importance of attending debates.
“People should watch these debates because it’s important for all candidates to face that kind of examination before the voters. We can’t just trust the press releases and campaign materials that make it to our phones and doors. Hearing the candidates speak live removes those filters,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell compared the atmosphere of the Cruz watch party with O’Rourke campaign events.
“It was a blast — the whole atmosphere was energetic. I went to a couple of Beto’s campaign headquarters in San Antonio to get a yard sign for me to shoot at, and his volunteers all seemed smug, dour and white. At Cruz’s watch party, people of all shapes and sizes were fired up and very friendly,” Mitchell said.
McMahan thought Cruz won the debate overall.
“I thought the debate was really fun to watch a lot of funny quotes from both sides. I think the clear winner was Ted Cruz. I thought he was a better debater, and I was interested to see how Beto was debating because I’d actually never heard him debate. He didn’t seem to list any major accomplishments he’s done. During a debate you’re supposed to brag on yourself,” McMahan said.
McMahan appreciated the bipartisan tone at one point during the debate.
“I think it was during the civility section, [O’Rourke] mentioned somewhere in there to put differences aside and come together as Texans, and I thought that was a very good point. A lot of times we’re very partisan leaning — kind of only want to listen to our party members. Ted Cruz said something similar. He said he was willing to work with the president,” McMahan said.
Trinity Progressives (T-Prog) and Trinity Forensics held a watch party Tuesday night in Northrup 040, providing food and drinks for the attendees. About 60 people attended the event.
Sophomore Carson Bolding, public relations officer for T-Prog, spoke about the success of the event and the sense of community at the event.
“It’s mostly T-Prog people, but we definitely have a bigger crowd than we normally have at meetings. I think people are really invested in this race, so a lot of people are already planning on watching the debate and having a community event for them to come and watch it together seems like it’s a hit,” Bolding said.
First-year Noor Rahman, a student fellow for the Beto campaign, joined the watch party to promote the Beto campaign and to report the number of students watching the debate for the campaign. Rahman spoke about the importance of student votes.
“We think that this debate is really, really impactful for mobilizing voters. A lot of people don’t really know who they’re voting for yet or aren’t even sure if they’re going to vote so are trying to make events like this as big as possible to mobilize as many young voters in Texas. People in the age range 18–24 generally don’t vote. This could be a catalyst for people getting involved,” Rahman said.
Sophomore Claire Carlson, president of Trinity Forensics and internal relations chair for T-Prog, facilitated the co-sponsoring of the event. Carlson emphasized the importance of experiencing this debate with people who have shared political views.
“This is something we should all be watching prior to the upcoming election. In addition to that, I feel like this was a very useful way to bring people together with shared views to be able to communicate about those different issues that we all care about,” Carlson said.
Carlson believes that it’s important for a student to enhance their understanding of political topics before the elections.
“I think that there were a lot of people here who came in here who might have been undecided and I think this helped them inform their views more or helped them decide which way they leaned on that. It’s good to talk about issues with other people who are informed about them to help test your own views and to inform them better,” Carlson said.
The watch party included a bingo game where members of the organizations crossed out phrases or issues brought up by candidates.
“I thought it was interesting because it really kind of signified which things that Cruz tends to say a lot. They’re all things that we’ve heard him say before in previous debates and speeches etc., and it was kind of a fun way to notify those,” Carlson said.
William Poneck, junior, attended the debate watch party and thought O’Rourke did well during the debate.
“I loved that Beto was willing to visit all the counties, which doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it’s the fact that he’s willing to listen to people. Ted Cruz doesn’t even really pretend,” Poneck said.
Early voting for midterm elections starts Oct. 22. Election Day is Nov. 6.