Ted Cruz makes a Chappaquiddick joke at Joe Kennedy’s expense

Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, the Brookline Democrat, has inserted himself into the contentious US Senate race in Texas, where Republican Ted Cruz is taking on challenger Beto O’Rourke.

Cruz’s response: invoke Chappaquiddick.

Kennedy and O’Rourke campaigned together earlier this year and reunited over the weekend on a swing through south Texas. In a video posted online in March, Kennedy is shown in the driver’s seat.

Speaking at a rally Friday in Houston, Cruz said, according to the Monitor of McAllen, Texas:

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“He had Joe Kennedy down here campaigning with him. And Joe Kennedy was driving him around. I have to admit, it may be the first time in history anyone’s ever asked a Kennedy to drive.”

Kennedy’s great-uncle was Ted Kennedy, who was behind the wheel in the 1969 crash that killed Mary Jo Kopechne.

Kennedy and O’Rourke campaigned together Saturday in McAllen. Asked to respond to Cruz’s comment, Kennedy defended his family.

“My uncle fought his entire life to try make sure that everybody got access to health care. . . . And you have a senator [Cruz] that shut down the federal government to try to deny millions of people access to health care,” Kennedy said.

O’Rourke’s response: “That just says everything you need to know about Senator Cruz.”

Sean Smyth can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @smythsays.

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