Texas gubernatorial debate: Beto O’Rourke, Greg Abbott spar …

Weapons. Abortion. . Texas’ closely-watched gubernatorial race hit the ultimate stretch Friday night time on the first — and certain solely — debate between incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke, because the candidates sparred on a few of the largest points going through votes within the state.

Whereas current polls have proven O’Rourke trailing Abbott by round 7 factors, this nonetheless might be the closest Texas governor’s race in years. Abbott received in 2014 by over 20 factors, and in 2018 by over 13 factors. 

Abbott and O’Rourke haven’t squared off in individual for the reason that day after the Uvalde college capturing, when O’Rourke confronted Abbott throughout a press convention. O’Rourke has continued to hammer Abbott for his response to the capturing, even holding a press convention forward of the controversy with the households of capturing victims.

Within the one-hour debate, Abbott was requested about his feedback at that press convention the day after the Uvalde capturing, which left 19 college students and two lecturers useless. In these feedback, he mentioned the capturing “might have been worse,” and he praised the legislation enforcement response. Since then, leaked video from the capturing has proven that officers waited within the hallway for 73 minutes to enter, and, at instances, the screams of youngsters might be heard. 

A report from a particular legislative committee discovered that 376 officers responded to the capturing, and the delay in confronting the gunman was the results of “systemic failures and egregiously poor resolution making.”

Beto O’Rourke, Greg Abbott

AP Picture/LM Otero, AP Picture/Eric Homosexual

Abbott has since mentioned he was “misled” by “everybody in that room that supplied me with the details about what legislation enforcement did.”

“What that remark was based mostly upon was data by legislation enforcement about all the kids in all the opposite school rooms that they evacuated in the course of the time the shooter was on the campus,” Abbott mentioned. “What they didn’t inform me on the time, nonetheless, was that there have been dozens, if no more, of different legislation enforcement that had been hanging round within the hallway for over an hour with out participating within the Columbine protocol, and getting into and instantly eradicating that shooter, which is what they had been presupposed to do. And since they failed to try this, there does should be accountability, not only for Pete Arredondo, but additionally for native legislation enforcement.” 

O’Rourke, in the meantime, has countered that there must be accountability for Abbott, and has referred to as for him to convene a particular session of the state legislature to enact stricter gun legal guidelines. Abbott has mentioned these legal guidelines could be challenged in court docket as unconstitutional. 

O’Rourke garnered nationwide headlines in 2019 when, whereas working for president, he mentioned at a debate “hell sure, we’re going to take your AR-15s.” He has appeared to stroll again these statements, and on Friday, he mentioned he was “for ensuring we make progress.”

“These households I used to be simply with from Uvalde need us to take motion,” O’Rourke mentioned. “That is the frequent floor. I’ve listened to Republicans and Democrats alike on this – we are able to agree on this a lot: Increase the age to 21, crimson flag legislation and common background verify.” 

Friday’s debate was hosted by Nexstar and held on the College of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg, an important area for each candidates. There was no viewers. Given the placement, it was not stunning that immigration was the primary query within the debate. Abbott has tried to maintain immigration entrance and middle on this race, as he has garnered nationwide headlines for busing migrants to Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago. Whereas the busing has drawn some criticism nationally – particularly from Democrats – a UT/Texas Politics Venture ballot from September discovered that 80% of Texas Republicans, and 52% of state voters total, supported this system. 

Abbott defended this system on Friday night time, and mentioned that New York Metropolis Mayor Eric Adams by no means reached out to his workplace, though Adams has mentioned that he has. O’Rourke referred to as the busing a “political stunt.” 

O’Rourke slammed Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star,” which has concerned deploying the Nationwide Guard to patrol the border, and has value the state $4 billion. Abbott touted this system, though he mentioned that, ideally, he would spend “zero {dollars}” on Operation Lone Star, and blamed President Joe Biden’s immigration insurance policies. 

O’Rourke, who’s from El Paso, has not shied away from discussing immigration, however he has tried to middle the race on abortion, gun legal guidelines, and the 2021 blackout. 

In 2021, earlier than the Supreme Court docket overturned Roe v. Wade, Abbott signed a legislation that banned abortion after six weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest. After the Supreme Court docket resolution, a set off legislation banning abortion went into impact. 

Abbott has mentioned the state would supply Plan B for victims of rape or incest, which he doubled down on on Friday night time, saying Plan B must be “available” for them. However advocates informed the Texas Tribune earlier this month that Plan B usually is not extensively accessible, with one calling it “fairy story pondering.” 

O’Rourke mentioned Friday that this election is a referendum on “reproductive freedom,” and he informed Texans that “for those who care about that, you could come out and vote.” 52% of doubtless voters mentioned they’d change Texas’ abortion legal guidelines to make the process extra accessible, in line with a Texas Hispanic Coverage Basis/KVUE ballot

Abbott, when requested if he has moved additional to the proper since taking workplace, mentioned he by no means personally supported abortion. 

“Let us take a look at the problems you introduced up,” Abbott mentioned. “And that’s as, for one, as a Catholic, my spouse and I’ve been pro-life our complete lives. A lot so, that it grew to become even stronger after we adopted our daughter. On the day she was born, I used to be the very first individual to carry her after she was born. And I’ve seen firsthand the ability that adoption can have.”

O’Rourke, in the meantime, was requested about his current unsuccessful runs for Senate in 2018 and president in 2020, and whether or not he’s working out of a name for public service or private ambition. O’Rourke answered that it is an “honor” to “have the chance to serve others.”

Previous to  debate, a spotlight group informed Nexstar that 40% supported Abbott, 27% backed O’Rourke, and 33% had been undecided. After the controversy, 50% supported O’Rourke, 43% supported Abbott, and seven% had been undecided. 

That is the one debate Abbott has agreed to, whereas O’Rourke has accepted a number of different invites. Forward of the controversy, O’Rourke accused Abbott of nixing the stay viewers, though Abbott’s marketing campaign informed the Houston Chronicle that the controversy circumstances had been agreed upon beforehand – with out an viewers. 

Early voting within the state begins on Oct. 24. In September 2021, the GOP-led legislature handed an election invoice that minimize down on early voting hours and instituted new ID necessities for mail-in ballots. This final change particularly led to a better poll rejection price within the March main elections, with greater than 24,000 votes that went uncounted

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