Ted Cruz is taking a page out of Donald Trump’s political playbook, joking at a rally this week that he may throw his opponent in prison alongside Hillary Clinton.
Trump gained notoriety for leading “Lock her up” chants against Hillary during the 2016 campaign and promising to have her thrown in prison if he were elected, and Trump’s onetime opponent is now doing the same. As Newsweek reported, Cruz appeared at a rally in Georgetown, Texas, when a supporter shouted “Lock him up” in reference to Beto O’Rourke, Cruz’s Democratic opponent.
Cruz was apparently tickled with the remark.
“Well, you know, there’s a double-occupancy cell with Hillary Clinton,” Cruz replied, before apparently realizing the gaffe he may have committed. “Ya’ll are gonna get me in trouble with that,” Cruz quickly added.
Cruz was once considered a lock for re-election but has found himself in an increasingly tight race with O’Rourke. Some believe that O’Rourke has connected well with the average Texan and now has a chance to be the first Democrat elected to a statewide office in more than two decades, the Houston Chronicle noted.
“You can’t get beat 80-20 in Brownwood, Texas, and get elected to the United States Senate,” said Garry Mauro, the Texas Land Commissioner who was the last Democrat elected to a statewide office in 1994. “You have to show people that you are culturally attuned to them, and for Beto that should be easy. There’s nobody more Texan than Beto O’Rourke.”
Beto O’Rourke has been making up ground in the polls. An aggregate from FiveThirtyEight found that nearly all polls show Cruz with a small single-digit lead, and many are within the margin of error. Cruz took a large lead earlier in the race, but O’Rourke has chipped away in recent weeks.
Ted Cruz has been criticized for repeating Trump’s “lock him up” promise against his political opponent, and also for his newly close relationship with Trump. Despite a bitter 2016 Republican primary in which Trump attacked Cruz as “Lyin’ Ted” and insulted his wife’s looks, Cruz has accepted Trump’s help during the current campaign. The two have appeared together at rallies in Texas and Trump has been playing up the race on Twitter.
The race between Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz could be critical for control of the U.S. Senate. Democrats are attempting to take control, but would likely needs upsets in a handful of races, including the one taking place in Texas.