Likeability has never been Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's strong suit. Even his Republican colleagues strain to say nice things about his personality (and John Boehner, the former GOP House speaker from Ohio, once called him a "miserable son of a bitch").
Even so, Cruz was heavily favored to win a second term as this political season started. And then along came Rep. Beto O'Rourke, picked by Democrats to oppose Cruz. And now the Texas race has gotten interesting ― in part because O'Rourke is just so damn likable.
Case in point ― after squaring off against Cruz in a debate Friday night, O'Rourke cruised over to a Whataburger outlet in the Dallas area for some grub. And as he navigated the drive-through, he blasted "Baba O'Riley" by The Who, which he believes "may be the best song ever written."
He air-drummed part of it, and that was included in a 45-minute stream that O'Rourke (who as a youth played in a rock band) posted to his Facebook page. If you check that out, you'll notice he remembers to say "please" and "thank you" while placing his order (a number one with cheese and a coke).
The Texas-based Whataburger chain has played an oddly prominent role in the O'Rourke-Cruz faceoff. During the summer, some postings on social media took note of a resemblance between O'Rourke's campaign logo and the one on Whataburger spicy ketchup containers.
Hardly a weighty issue. But the Cruz campaign strangely decided to weigh in.
"Unlike the spicy ketchup, when Texans unwrap the O'Rourke packaging, they are definitely not going to like what they see underneath," Cruz campaign spokeswoman Emily Miller said in early August. "He's like a Triple Meat Whataburger liberal who is out of touch with Texas values."
While many tried to figure out exactly what Miller meant and how she could badmouth a triple meat burger, O'Rourke rolled with it. Indeed, a popular video posted later in the month featured him skateboarding in a Whataburger parking lot.
Much to the shock of the GOP establishment, the Washington-based Cook Political Report now rates the Senate race a tossup.