The hour-long debate took place in Edinburgh. It was the only scheduled debate between the two candidates ahead of November’s election.
TEXAS, United States— This story was originally published in The Texas Tribune.
governor Gregory Abbott and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke Friday night over immigration, abortion and gun control clashed in the only scheduled gubernatorial debate ahead of the Nov. 8 election.
The debate at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburgh began with a discussion of immigration, which consistently ranks as a top issue for Texas voters.
Abbott announced the $4 billion the state has allocated for border security, including funding to deploy thousands of National Guard troops and Department of Public Safety soldiers at the southern border to detain the large number of migrants who have been arrested enter the state. But the state is not allowed to pay any money because the federal government has to secure the border.
“What we’re doing is making sure we’re protecting our community, and that’s totally different from things under Beto, because months ago he said, ‘There’s no problem at the border.’ He said he would reduce immigration enforcement enforcement,” Abbott said.
Abbott also blamed Democratic President Joe Biden for the large number of migrants attempting to enter the country across the Texas-Mexico border.
O’Rourke immediately attacked, saying Abbott was trying to shift blame away from immigration as he would on other issues. He noted that Abbott’s expensive border mission did not have the effect of deterring border crossings.
“What we just heard from the governor is what we’re likely to hear throughout this debate,” O’Rourke said. “He will blame people like President Biden. He’ll try to lie about my record and he’ll cover up his mistakes, whether it’s his failure to leave the lights on, his failure to address school shootings, or his failure with immigration.”
O’Rourke said Texas needs a “safe, orderly path” for migrants crossing the border that reflects the state’s values and interests.
The two candidates also fell out over migrant buses to Democrat-run cities like New York City and Washington, DC, with Abbott questioning why O’Rourke didn’t criticize migrant buses through El Paso, his hometown. O’Rourke said the two programs are completely different. (El Paso coordinates with the cities it sends migrants to, and Democratic mayors said Abbott refuses to notify them.) O’Rourke said Abbott was comparing “apples to oranges.”
Gun control measures were also a major topic of conversation following the fatal shooting of 19 children and two teachers at a primary school in Uvalde in May.
Hours before the debate, a group of about 35 Family members of the victims of the Uvalde shooting held a press conference with O’Rourke and announced her support for him. They criticized Abbott for not acting after the shooting and refusing her call for the governor to call a special session to change gun laws to raise the legal age to purchase an assault rifle from 18 to 21. Abbott said he believes such a change in the law would be unconstitutional given recent court rulings.
At the debate, Abbott reiterated that he opposed the change in law “from a legal standpoint,” and said other states that have passed such legislation — like Florida — have had to deal with litigation. Abbott also said he remains opposed to red flag laws because they deny “lawful Texas gun owners their constitutional right to due process.”
The Uvalde families have also called for red flag legislation to be passed that would allow judges to temporarily confiscate firearms from those deemed dangerous.
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https://www.kvue.com/article/news/politics/elections/texas-governor-debate-beto-abbott-elections-2022-rgv-uvalde/273-fae3f117-b182-4a3a-a8be-a56b51bacc77 Abbott, O’Rourke clash in debate over immigration, abortion, and Uvalde shooting