Texas governor debate: Beto O’Rourke, Greg Abbott spar on guns, abortion and immigration

Guns. abortion, , Texas’s closely watched gubernatorial race hit the final stretch on Friday night for the first – and only likely – debate between the incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbottand Democratic challengers Beto O’RourkeAs did the candidates on some of the biggest issues facing votes in the state.

While recent polls show O’Rourke nearly 7 points behind Abbott, this may still be the closest Texas governor’s race in years. Abbott won by more than 20 points in 2014 and more than 15 in 2018.

Abbott and O’Rourke haven’t squared off individually since that day Uvalde school shootingwhen O’Rourke confronts Abbott During a press conference. O’Rourke continued to bash Abbott for his reaction to the shooting, even holding a press conference before an argument with the families of the shooting victims.

In an hour-long debate, Abbott was asked about his comments at the press conference that took place the day after the Uvalde shooting, which killed 19 students and two teachers. In those comments, he said the shooting “could have been worse,” and he praised the law enforcement response. since, leaked video The shooting showed that officers waited in the hallway for 73 minutes to enter, and at times the screams of children could be heard.

a report of got special legislative committee That 376 officers responded to the shooting, and that the delay in confronting the gunman was the result of “systemic failures and seriously poor decision-making”.

Beto O’Rourke, Greg Abbott

AP Photo/LM Otero, AP Photo/Eric Gaye

Abbott has since said that he was “misled” by “everyone in that room who provided me with information about law enforcement.”

“What that comment was based on was information provided by law enforcement about all children in all other classes while the shooter was on campus,” Abbott said. “What they didn’t tell me at the time was that there were dozens, if not more, other law enforcement who hung out in the hallway for more than an hour without engaging in the Columbine Protocol, and were going in and that immediately. remove the shooter, which they had to do. And because they failed to do so, there needs to be accountability, not just for Peter Arredondobut also to local law enforcement.”

Meanwhile, O’Rourke has countered that there is a need for accountability for Abbott, and has called for a special session of the state legislature to enact strict gun laws. Abbott has said those laws would be challenged in court, calling them unconstitutional.

O’Rourke made national headlines in 2019 when, in a debate running for president, he said “Hell yeah we’re going to get your AR-15sHe appeared to back down from those statements, and on Friday he said he would “make sure we make progress.”

“The families I was with from Uvalde want us to take action,” O’Rourke said. “It’s common ground. I’ve heard Republicans and Democrats alike on this — we can pretty much agree on this: raise the age to 21, red flag laws and universal background checks.”

Friday’s debate was hosted by Nexstar and held at the University of Texas at Edinburgh in the Rio Grande Valley, an important field for both candidates. There was no spectator. Given the location, it was not surprising that immigration was the first question in the debate. Abbott has tried to keep immigration front and center in this race, Because they’ve grabbed national headlines To settle immigrants in Washington, DC, New York and Chicago. While Busing has drawn some criticism nationally—particularly from Democrats—a UT/Texas Politics Project poll from September found that 80% of Texas Republicans and 52% of state voters overall supported the program.

Abbott defended the program on Friday night, saying New York City Mayor Eric Adams never reached his office, although Adams has said he has. O’Rourke called busing a “political stunt”.

O’Rourke slammed Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star,” which involves the deployment of the National Guard to patrol the border, and cost the state $4 billion. Abbott touted the program, though he said that, ideally, he would spend “zero dollars” on Operation Lone Star, and blamed President Joe Biden’s immigration policies.

O’Rourke, who is from El Paso, doesn’t shy away from discussing immigration, but has tried to focus the race on abortion, gun laws and the 2021 blackout.

In 2021, before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Abbott signed a law banning abortion after six weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Following the Supreme Court’s decision, a triggering law banning abortion came into force.

Abbott has said the state will provide Plan B for victims of rape or incest, which he doubled down on Friday night, adding that Plan B should be “readily available” to them. But advocates told the Texas Tribune earlier this month that Plan B is often not widely available, one calling it “fairy tale thinking.”

O’Rourke said Friday that the election is a referendum on “reproductive freedom,” and told Texans that “if you care about it, you need to come out and vote.” According to a Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation/KVUE poll, 52% of potential voters said they would change Texas abortion laws to make the procedure more accessible.

Asked Abbott if he has moved on to the right since taking office, he said he never personally supported abortion.

“Let’s look at the issues you raised,” Abbott said. “And that is, for one, as Catholics, my wife and I have been supportive of us all our lives. So much so, that it became even stronger when we adopted our daughter. The day she was born She was the first person to hold her after she was born. And I have seen for the first time the power that adoption can have.”

Meanwhile, O’Rourke was asked about his recent unsuccessful runs Senate in 2018 And President in 2020, and whether he is being held out by calls for public service or personal ambition. O’Rourke replied that “having the opportunity to serve others” is an “honour.”

Before the debate, a focus group told Nexstar that 40% supported Abbott, 27% supported O’Rourke, and 33% were undecided. After the debate, 50% supported O’Rourke, 43% supported Abbott, and 7% were undecided.

This is the only debate to which Abbott has agreed, while O’Rourke has accepted several other invitations. Ahead of the debate O’Rourke accuses Abbott As for the removal of the live audience, however, Abbott’s campaign told the Houston Chronicle that the terms of the debate had already been agreed – without an audience.

Early voting in the state begins on October 24 September 2021The GOP-led legislature passed an election bill that cut early voting hours and established new ID requirements for mail-in ballots. This last change in particular led to a high ballot rejection rate in the March primary elections, with Over 24,000 votes not counted,

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