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Senator Ted Cruz Accuses Democrat Opponent of Changing Name for Votes

Robert “Beto” O’Rourke has gone by traditionally Hispanic nickname since childhood

ted cruz beto orourke texas senate

Rafael "Ted" Cruz accused Robert "Beto" O'Rourke, his Democratic opponent in the Texas Senate race, of changing his name to appeal to voters.

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Texas Senator Ted Cruz (whose real name is Rafael) released a new radio ad criticizing his Democratic opponent, Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, for not using his real name to appeal to voters, The Washington Post reports.

Set to the tune of Alabama’s “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band),” Cruz’s new radio spot features the lyrics, “I remember reading stories liberal Robert wanted to fit in/ So he changed his name to Beto and hid it with a grin.”

O’Rourke, who is white, has gone by the traditionally Hispanic nickname “Beto” since he was a child growing up in El Paso, Texas. But rather than a cooked-up political ploy, a recent Texas Monthly profile noted that the nickname was created as a nod to the city’s diversity, and to distinguish O’Rourke from his grandfather, also named Robert. Last month, the El Paso congressman even shared a photo of himself as a child wearing a sweater with the nickname “Beto” stitched into it.

Of course, Cruz has gone by the nickname “Ted” throughout his political career, instead of his given name, Rafael. Cruz was born in Canada and named for his father, Rafael Bienvenido Cruz, a Cuban-American preacher.

On Wednesday, Cruz addressed the criticism during a CNN interview, saying, “In terms of the jingle, some of it is just having a sense of humor. We had some fun with it.” 

O’Rourke told CNN about the ad: “I just don’t think that’s what folks in Texas want us to focus on. We can get into name-calling and talk about why the other person is such an awful guy, or we can focus on the big things we want to do for the future of our country, for the generations that will succeed us.”

O’Rourke has represented Texas’ 16th district since 2013 and secured the Democratic nomination for Senator on Tuesday. While O’Rourke handily won the Democratic primary – which saw nearly doubled turnout from 2014 – he’s still considered a long-shot underdog to flip the deep red seat in November. 

In This Article: Ted Cruz

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