When asked whether he thought it was a problem in the country, the 47-year-old conservative switched the focus from race when speaking to his liberal competitor.
The Friday event was the first of three hour-long debates, and it comes as polls continue to show a tight race between Cruz and O'Rourke, an El Paso congressman. When asked if he cared that fans have an issue with his performance at the O'Rourke fundraiser, Nelson said plainly, "I don't care". "If Texas elects a Democrat, they're going to ban barbecue across the state". Dallas police subsequently leaked the claim that Jean possessed a small amount of marijuana in his home in a blatant attempt to tarnish his image and retroactively justify the murder.
In August, Caucasian Texas former cop Roy Oliver was found guilty after gunning down unarmed black teenager Jordan Edwards was riding in a vehicle with his brother and friends after a party.
Cruz went on the attack moments after stepping on the stage, charging that his opponent suggested that police officers embodied "modern-day Jim Crow" laws in response to a question about Amber Guyger, the officer accused of shooting of her neighbor.
The May 2018 shooting at Sante Fe High School near Houston was also a hot debate issue. Ted Cruz by two points. He has complained that outside Democratic groups are providing O'Rourke with a fundraising advantage.
O'Rourke reiterated at the debate that he believes "there's nothing more American than" such nonviolent protests, which the players say they are doing to draw attention to racial inequality. Holding firm on his support for that idea, O'Rourke charged Cruz with promising to "deport each and every single Dreamer - that can not be the way that Texas leads on this issue".
Florence regroups as Tropical Storm Kirk; slim chance for Carolina repeat
It's hard for a storm moving so fast to strengthen but forecasters think that might be possible for Kirk, albeit for a short time. The National Hurricane Center said it is now monitoring two other areas of disturbed weather in the Atlantic.
But Cruz often put him on the defensive, clouding his positive message. "How do you respond to critics who say that as it relates to President Trump, you've lost your dignity?"
He suggested those were supported by "gunowners and non-gunowners alike, ' and that offering 'thoughts and prayers" wasn't enough. "Right now, today, I don't know what happened that evening". "I will pray for anyone in harm's way, but I will also do something about it".
"That's not true", Mr. O'Rourke rejoined, before expressing what he said were common sense moves Congress can make to ensure "weapons of war belong on the battlefield and not in public life". "The allegations she has raised are serious, and they deserve to be treated with respect", Cruz said.
In Cruz's Senate career, he has missed 13.4 percent of votes, compared to O'Rourke 2.9 percent absence for House votes over the same period.
Cruz and O'Rourke will face off again September 30 in Houston and October 16 in San Antonio.
O'Rourke's candidacy has generated widespread enthusiasm among national Democrats, but his chances of defeating Cruz, one of the GOP's most high-profile and controversial figures, remain unclear.