Monday, December 5, 2022
Home POLITICS Beto O'Rourke and Greg Abbott collide in debate in attack-ridden Texas

Beto O’Rourke and Greg Abbott collide in debate in attack-ridden Texas

Candidates had no time for introductory remarks and gave 30-second closing remarks, a format that played to Abbott’s strengths as a direct, often concise speaker, and limited O’Rourke’s tendency to develop long rhetorical flourishes.

And the timing, on a Friday night when many Texans are most consumed with high school football, seemed likely to reduce the number of people watching live.

Chris Evans, a spokesman for O’Rourke, said before the debate that Abbott’s campaign had proposed the terms and would not accept any changes. “They refused to have voters in the audience,” he said. Abbott spokesman Mark Miner said Mr. O’Rourke “was in no position to lead the state if he can’t even understand the simple rules of debate.”

Democrats in Texas have pinned their hopes on O’Rourke before, but so far he has only managed to emerge victorious in defeat. In his rebranded 2018 Senate bid, he came within three percentage points of unseating Sen. Ted Cruz, a strong showing in Republican-dominated Texas, but still a loser.

Friday’s debate, just weeks before early voting begins in Texas, came at a crucial time for both campaigns, especially O’Rourke’s. Over the summer, some polls suggested a close race after the Uvalde murders and the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Calf. But more recent polls show Abbott in firmer control, with a lead of about seven percentage points.

For Mr. O’Rourke, a former congressman from El Paso and a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, the debate was a chance to regain momentum and his most direct opportunity to prosecute his case against Mr. Abbott, a two-term incumbent who has he ran the state for eight years under unified Republican control of the state government.

For Mr. Abbott, it was a night to get out unscathed. His campaign had been preparing for the meeting for weeks, viewing Mr. O’Rourke as a skilled debater with significant experience from his 2020 bid for president.

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