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Sen. Ted Cruz took a minute after the third Democratic debate to criticize PolitiFact on Twitter for our previous fact-checking of Cruz's 2018 attacks on Beto O’Rourke. We thought it important to address his criticism.
Here’s what Cruz tweeted: "Just a reminder, when I said it, PolitiFact (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the DNC) rated ‘Beto wants to take our guns’ as FALSE. Maybe they should buy one of his new t-shirts…." Cruz included a link to a T-shirt being sold by the O’Rourke campaign that says, "Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15."
PolitiFact Texas fact-checked Cruz in March 2018 when he said that O’Rourke wants "open borders and wants to take our guns." At the time, O’Rourke did not support either goal. On guns, he wanted to forbid the sale of new assault rifles but did not support mandatory gun buyback programs.
Since that time, O’Rourke has partially changed his position in response to a mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, as well as a shooting in the Odessa-Midland area.
At the debate on Sept. 12, ABC journalist David Muir asked O’Rourke if he was proposing taking away guns.
O’Rouke said, in some cases, yes: "I am, if it's a weapon that was designed to kill people on a battlefield… If the high impact, high velocity round, when it hits your body, shreds everything inside of your body, because it was designed to do that, so that you would bleed to death on a battlefield and not be able to get up and kill one of our soldiers. When we see that being used against children, and in Odessa, I met the mother of a 15-year-old girl who was shot by an AR-15, and that mother watched her bleed to death over the course of an hour because so many other people were shot by that AR-15 in Odessa and Midland, there weren't enough ambulances to get to them in time, hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We're not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore."
O'Rourke's position may have changed, but that doesn't affect the rating of our 2018 fact-check. We rate statements based on the information known at the time the statement is made. (You can read more about our methodology in "Principles of the Truth-O-Meter.")
Cruz also inaccurately called PolitiFact a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic National Committee. PolitiFact is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit newsroom that fact-checks Democrats and Republicans alike. PolitiFact Texas is run in partnership with the Austin American-Statesman, a daily newspaper. The same week Cruz called PolitiFact part of the DNC, several Democratic campaigns publicly complained that fact-checkers were giving unfair scrutiny to Democratic messaging and candidate comments.
PolitiFact seeks to present true facts, unaffected by agenda or biases. The reason we publish findings is to give citizens the information they need to govern themselves in a democracy.