New Ted Cruz Video Falsely Claims Beto O'Rourke Supports Flag Burning

A new, heavily edited video released by Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas falsely depicts his opponent, Democratic Representative Beto O'Rourke, as someone who supports burning the American flag.

By editing O'Rourke's nearly four-minute answer to an audience member's question at a town hall event in El Paso last Friday, the video makes it appear as if O'Rourke had said there was something "inherently American" about burning the flag and that he's "grateful" for it.

Using video from the town hall, the 25-second ad was posted to Cruz's social media accounts Tuesday afternoon.

The Cruz video begins with audio of an unseen constituent asking the question: "As a voter, I don't know how I would feel to have my own elected representative being open to kneeling on the Senate floor or encouraging and supporting acts that desecrate our American flag."

The ad then cuts to a small portion of O'Rourke's answer: "I think there is something inherently American about that, and so I'm grateful people are willing to do that."

WATCH: “Congressman O’Rourke not only called burning the U.S. flag ‘inherently American’ but also said he was ‘grateful’...

Posted by Ted Cruz on Tuesday, September 4, 2018

But when watching the full, unedited video of O'Rourke's response, which was posted on Ted Cruz's YouTube page, and looking at the full transcript of O'Rourke's answer posted by The Dallas Morning News, O'Rourke did not say he supported burning the American flag.

The ad used 43 of 143 words from the audience member's question, and only 24 of 615 words from O'Rourke's answer.

And the question was more about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality. O'Rourke's answer focused on the issue of NFL protests and why he believed they were similar to civil rights–era protests.

What O'Rourke called "inherently American" and what he was "grateful" for was "in the face of injustice…violence…and the very real possibility that you will lose your life in the process, people have been willing to nonviolently and peacefully protest to seek political solutions to otherwise intractable problems.

"But when there is use of force, when there is a life taken and there is not accountability, there is not justice done, there's not the ability to prevent that from continuing to happen in the future, and someone is willing to call attention to that, to try to awaken our conscience, to force us to do the right thing, in the face of that injustice and violence and to do so peacefully and nonviolently," O'Rourke said.

That sentence lead to the portion of his answer that was used in the Cruz ad to falsely claim O'Rourke supported burning the American flag. "I think that there is something inherently American about that. And so, I'm grateful there are people willing to do that."

Cruz spokeswoman Emily Miller defended the video on social media and to Newsweek on Wednesday, saying that the campaign believed O'Rourke supported flag burning.

"Congressman O'Rourke not only called burning the U.S. flag 'inherently American' but also said he was 'grateful' for those willing to commit such an act," Miller said. "His position is an appalling display of disregard to those who have put their lives on the line to preserve the very freedoms the American flag represents. Texans certainly do not share such views."

O'Rourke spokesman Chris Evans told The Dallas Morning News the misinterpretation of the video was "pretty troubling, especially this early on."

"He never once talked about burning flags," Evans said. "He wasn't talking about that."

Another Cruz ad posted earlier this week said O'Rourke's rallies were no place for kids because he had cursed too many times at his past rallies.

Although Cruz's seat and Texas as a whole has been largely deep-red, polls and funding appear to show that O'Rourke could conceivably unseat the incumbent senator. An Emerson College poll released last week had O'Rourke just one point down and an NBC News/Marist poll released earlier in August had O'Rourke within 4 points of Cruz, with both results within the margin of error.

Update: This story has been updated with Emily Miller's statement to Newsweek.