HOUSTON — Days after a top adviser to President Trump questioned Senator Ted Cruz’s chances of winning re-election, the Texas lawmaker casually stepped into the pinnacle of his hometown’s energy industry on Tuesday — the lobby of the Petroleum Club of Houston, on the 35th floor of a downtown skyscraper.
Mr. Cruz shook hands while holding a cup of McDonald’s coffee. By the end of his remarks to the American Petroleum Institute, the audience rose for two standing ovations. It was not a campaign event, but it might as well have been: Mr. Cruz was relaxed and confident, eager to both attack his Democratic opponent and to poke fun at himself — and his critics.
“When there’s extreme anger and hatred on the other side, don’t respond in kind,” Mr. Cruz told the audience beneath the glittering chandeliers. “Have fun. Be a joyful warrior.” He recalled encountering a Twitter handle, “Ted Cruz ate my son.” “I was really tempted to tweet, ‘He was delicious,’” he said.
Mr. Cruz’s Democratic challenger, Beto O’Rourke, the El Paso congressman, has been making the talk-show rounds, out-raising Mr. Cruz and reviving the long-suffering spirits of Democrats in one of the reddest states in America. Polls show the two locked in one of the tightest midterm races in the country.
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