Barbecue has once again made its way into national political discourse. This time, lawmakers are not laughing about the authenticity of the Brooklyn version like they were in March , but instead, the fate of its existence in the Lone Star State.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who is locked in a tight fight for his seat with Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke, lampooned his opponent in a warning to Texas voters on Twitter Sunday: "if Beto wins, BBQ will be illegal!"
That, according to Cruz, is what is at stake for Texans, who are known for their love of barbecue, in November's election, in which Democrats have the chance to flip a critical Senate seat .
The day before, a Cruz campaign event on Saturday in the town of Columbus was met with tofu-serving protesters from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, prompting a warning from the Republican senator, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
"When I got here someone told me that even PETA was protesting and giving out barbecued tofu, so I got to say, they summed up the entire election: If Texas elects a Democrat, they're going to ban barbecue across the state of Texas," Cruz told supporters, according to the newspaper.
Seizing on the opportunity, Cruz thanked the protesters for bringing the issue to his event. "You want to talk about an issue to mobilize the people, and I'm talking everybody," he said, drawing laughter from attendees.
"So I want to thank PETA, and I do want to tell PETA, you're going to have to disclose to the FEC that by coming and protesting and giving away tofu, that you have given an in-kind contribution to my campaign by demonstrating just how bad things can get," he said, the Statesman reported.
Catherine Frazer, a spokesperson for Cruz's campaign, said the senator "was having a laugh with his audience" and that "his speech was very well received."
PETA, however, wasn't there to represent O'Rourke's campaign and didn't utter a word about banning meat, according to the newspaper. But their message was still political. One of the protester's signs read: "Republicans eat tofu, too."
In a statement, the animal rights organization said it showed up to protest comments Cruz made a week earlier about how liberals want to change Texas values.
"We are seeing tens of millions of dollars flooding into the state of Texas from liberals all over the country who desperately want to turn the state of Texas blue," Cruz said. "They want us to be just like California, right down to tofu and silicon and dyed hair."
Cruz added that his wife, Heidi Cruz, was "a California vegetarian."
"She's wonderful, but I brought her to the great state of Texas," Cruz said.
PETA, however, defended tofu in a statement, announcing they would be protesting Cruz's remarks about liberals' culinary intentions and would be handing out samples of the bean curd, barbecue style, outside Cruz's campaign event.
"Tofu is the most versatile food on the planet, and it's grown right in the Lone Star State," PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in the statement. "PETA is confident that once Ted Cruz tastes how delicious tofu can be, he'll want to see it in every Texas pot," the statement said.
Both Cruz and O'Rourke's campaigns did not respond to CNN's request for comment, and it is unclear whether or not Cruz tasted -- let alone enjoyed -- the barbecued tofu in question.