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Texas Senate Race Turns Into A Bit Of A Food Fight


All right, let me turn you now to talking about tofu and burgers.


And beer.

KELLY: Always beer. We are talking Texas politics, and specifically the race between Republican Senator Ted Cruz and Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke. Yes, there's a food factor here.

CHANG: From the start, the two rivals have been trying to one-up each other and flaunt their Texan bona fides in the process, like in this video taken at a rally for O'Rourke. He stops to take a group photo and then this question.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Beto O'Rourke, Beto O'Rourke, I have to know. What do you order from Whataburger?

BETO O'ROURKE: No. 1, cheese, no tomato.

KELLY: No. 1, cheese, no tomato. That would be Whataburger's combo No. 1, the food of O'Rourke.

CHANG: The El Paso Democrat has a strong association with this Texas fast food chain. An earlier video taken in Brownsville showed him skateboarding around one of their parking lots.

KELLY: And people have noticed that his black-and-white campaign logo looks an awful lot like the logo for Whataburger's spicy ketchup.

CHANG: This has presented an opportunity for Senator Ted Cruz. He's put his own label on O'Rourke, calling him a Triple Meat Whataburger liberal.

KELLY: We'll help you out here with the Lone Star subtext. Cruz is saying O'Rourke is out of touch with Texas.

CHANG: But wait. Filmmaker Richard Linklater grabbed onto Cruz's clever slam and turned it against him.


SONNY CARL DAVIS: A Triple Meat Whataburger liberal - what does that even mean, Ted? I mean, everybody I know in Texas likes Whataburger.

KELLY: Still, you got to give Ted Cruz some credit here. He's got game. His team put out a video of him in his usual blue suit walking...

CHANG: Well, some might say strutting.

KELLY: OK, strutting through Buc-ee's, which is a chain of gas stations which sells everything a Texan might need.

CHANG: Including a 12-pack of Shiner beer. That's what Cruz holds in one hand as he gets a shout-out from a supporter who yells, good luck, Cruzer.


TED CRUZ: Thank you, Sir. Thank you very much.

KELLY: Throughout his campaign, Senator Cruz has outlined his vision for the state he represents. He has warned against Democrats, saying if they are allowed, they would turn Texas into California.


CRUZ: Right down to tofu and silicon and dyed hair.

CHANG: Not dyed hair. Cruz has also joked that Beto O'Rourke is so liberal that if elected, he would make barbecue illegal.

KELLY: All right, again, some help with the subtext - here's Ross Ramsey, editor of The Texas Tribune.

ROSS RAMSEY: This is cattle country. And even a vegetarian in politics is a little bit suspect. But if you're coming out against barbecue or barbacoa or anything like that, you're probably on the outside.

CHANG: So far, food fight aside, voters in Texas seem to be fired up. More than 4.5 million of them have already cast their ballots.

KELLY: Sometimes you just have to push back from the table and say, enough, I'm done. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.