Abbott and O’Rourke clash over gun restrictions in lone Texas gubernatorial debate



CNN

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke clashed over gun restrictions in a debate Friday night, with O’Rourke saying Abbott was blaming “everyone else” for mass shootings while “misleading this state.”

“It’s been 18 weeks since their children were killed, and nothing has changed in this situation to make any other child more likely to suffer the same fate,” O’Rourke said at the University of Texas debate. Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg. “We just need action, and the only person standing in our way is the governor of the state of Texas.”

Abbott was shown a video of a child in the Valley explaining why Texas won’t raise the minimum age to purchase assault-style rifles. According to the latest judgments, he believes that this move would be “unconstitutional”.

“We want to end school shootings, but we can’t do that by making false promises,” Abbott said.

Abbott also said he opposed the “red flag” laws, which he said would “deny gun owners in Texas their right to due process.”

O’Rourke, meanwhile, did not back down from comments he made as a 2020 presidential candidate that he wanted to confiscate assault-style rifles in the wake of the 2019 racially motivated mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart. AR-15s and AK-47s. But he said as governor he would “focus on what we can do.”

He said raising the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21, implementing universal background checks and implementing “red flag” laws.

“This is common ground,” he said, citing conversations with Republican and Democratic voters, as well as the families of those killed in Uvalde.

Friday night’s showdown between Abbott, a Republican seeking a third term as governor, and O’Rourke, a former Democratic congressman from El Paso who narrowly lost a 2018 race against Sen. Ted Cruz, electrified Texas Democrats.

Democrats have not won a gubernatorial race in Texas since Ann Richards was elected governor in 1990. Neither party has won a statewide race in the Lone Star State since 1994 — the Democrats Longest losing streak in the state.

Abbott, who is seen as a potential 2024 presidential candidate, has been consistently performing in the polls. A September 22-26 Quinnipiac University poll found the governor with a 7-point lead over O’Rourke among likely voters, 53 percent to 46 percent.

The most recent campaign finance reports from mid-July showed O’Rourke keeping pace with Abbott’s fundraising, but the incumbent maintained a significant cash advantage with $46 million in the bank to his challenger’s $24 million.

On the campaign trail, O’Rourke has criticized Abbott’s anti-abortion rights stance — the governor signed the so-called trigger law that took effect in August last year and bans nearly all abortions in the state after the US Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade. The Democrat has also criticized the Abbott administration’s handling of the power grid during last winter’s freeze and the governor’s rejection of gun restrictions in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting.

O’Rourke confronted Abbott and other officials at a news conference in Uvalde the day after the shooting, saying, “It’s time to stop the next shooting and you do nothing.”

Abbott, on the other hand, has campaigned on tough border security policies, including bringing out-of-state migrants on Democratic buses to Northern cities to protest the Biden administration’s immigration policies. He has also accused O’Rourke of cutting police funding, saying in an ad that O’Rourke wants to “get rid of the police and dismantle it”. It was a reference to O’Rourke’s comments in 2020, in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, in which he praised protesters for targeting “those in the ranks who have militarized our police.” O’Rourke said he does not support cutting Texas police funding.

“Look, I don’t think Greg Abbott wakes up to see kids shot up in their schools or the grid goes down, but he’s clearly unable or unwilling to make the changes necessary to put the lives of our fellow Texans first. That’s why it’s up to all of us to make changes at the ballot box,” O’Rourke said in closing remarks.

In closing, Abbott said, “I’m running for re-election to keep Texas No. 1, lower your property taxes, secure the border, keep dangerous criminals behind bars, and keep deadly fentanyl off our streets.”

The two also differed over abortion rights, an issue that has moved to the center of the governor’s decision, the Supreme Court’s Roe v. After Wade and Abbott signed a measure restricting abortion, except to save the mother’s life, certain health emergencies.

O’Rourke said that Texas in Roe v. He said he would seek to restore the abortion protections that existed under Wade.

“This election is about reproductive freedom. If you care about this, you need to get out and vote,” O’Rourke said. “I will fight to make sure every woman in Texas can make her own decisions about her body, her future and her health care.”

Abbott called O’Rourke’s stance on abortion “extreme,” and said O’Rourke supports the right to abortion up until birth.

“No one in the state of Texas thinks that,” O’Rourke replied. “He’s saying this because he signed the most extreme abortion ban in America: no exceptions for rape, no exceptions for incest, it starts at conception, and it’s happening in a state that’s at the epicenter of the maternal mortality crisis, thanks. Greg Abbott – triple killer for black women.”

Abbott was asked if emergency contraception is a viable alternative for rape and incest victims.

“It’s up to the state of Texas to make sure it’s readily available,” he said. “For those who are victims of sexual assault or survivors of sexual assault, the state of Texas pays for that, whether it’s a hospital, a clinic or someone who gets a prescription for it.”

He also denounced the state’s “alternative to abortion program,” which includes life support and baby supplies for those victims.

Abbott made reforms to the power grid after the deep freeze, pointing to high temperatures this summer.

“Time and time again, the electrical network was able to maintain its level, and it is thanks to the reforms we were able to carry out. The power grid remains more resilient than ever,” he said.

But O’Rourke said the power failure had been “part of a pattern” during Abbott’s nearly eight years in office, and the governor had been warned about the possibility.

“The grid still isn’t fixed,” O’Rourke said, pointing to higher energy bills, Toyota stopping its third round in San Antonio because it was “drawing too much power” and Texas residents receiving conservation notices in the summer.

“All the veto does is create fear on this issue, when in reality the network is more resilient and reliable than it’s ever been,” Abbott replied.