Monday, December 5, 2022
Home POLITICS Greg Abbott, Beto O'Rourke clash over immigration, guns and abortion

Greg Abbott, Beto O’Rourke clash over immigration, guns and abortion

administration Greg Abbott said Friday that his Democratic rival Beto O’Rourke supports the Biden administration’s “open border” policies that have forced Texas to spend billions to combat the surge of illegal immigrants crossing its border and the violent drug cartels flooding the nation with fentanyl. .

In the first and only debate of his gubernatorial run, Mr. Abbott, who is seeking his third term, said that Mr. O’Rourke, if elected, will not lift a finger to prevent the Biden administration from alienating the nation. of Trump-era policies that strengthened border security and reduced illegal immigration.

O’Rourke, in response, said Abbott is always looking for someone else to blame for his shortcomings, even at the border, saying the Republican approach has failed.

“Remember this: Two years ago we had one of the most secure borders in decades, but under the Biden administration we have more people crossing the border than ever before in the history of our country,” Abbott said at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. in Edinburgh. “Texas has responded by making sure we have the National Guard and [Texas Department of Public Safety] deployed where they are making arrests and turning away illegal immigrants.”

Mr. Abbott said they are helping localities by transporting illegal immigrants to “sanctuary cities in the northeast of the country.”

Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, pushing National Guard troops and state and local law enforcement into the border battle, has bused 8,100 immigrants to Washington, 2,900 to New York City and 870 to Chicago. He has also brought state charges against smugglers and some illegal immigrants, taking on cases the feds refuse to pursue.

“What we’re doing is making sure we keep our communities safe, and this is completely different than how things would be with Beto,” he said.

Mr O’Rourke said no more taxpayer money should be appropriated for the programme, arguing that it has proven to be “political theatre” intended to promote Mr Abbott’s political fortunes and arguing that it “has clearly failed”.

“He promised he would discourage people from coming to this country,” O’Rourke said. “We have only seen more people come. Now they get a bus ride to Chicago or Washington, DC or New York. We don’t need any more tricks. We need solutions.”

“What we need is a safe, legal and orderly path for anyone who wants to come here to work with their family or seek asylum,” he said. “If you have come to this country, we expect you to abide by the law, but for our part, we will make sure that our laws reflect our values ​​and our interests.”

Mr. O’Rourke said he supports a “Texas-based guest worker program” that he said would help alleviate worker shortages and alleviate supply chain problems.

Abbott responded by saying O’Rourke could have pushed for such a program if he had won his 2018 Senate bid or 2020 presidential bid, but said a governor has other duties.

“The governor’s job is to have to deal with the chaos caused by the Biden administration and his open border policies that Beto would replicate,” Abbott said.

For O’Rourke, the debate offered an opportunity to harness the momentum of the race and fulfill the dreams of Democrats and liberal activists who loathe Abbott and relish the idea that the Texas electorate has become less conservative.

The debate did not have an audience. Both men sat at tables and took questions from reporters.

O’Rourke said Abbott blames “everyone else” when the state falls short. Meanwhile, Abbott said O’Rourke has changed his mind on a number of issues.

Both men accused each other of misrepresenting their records.

O’Rourke criticized Abbott’s response to the Uvalde elementary school mass shooting and 2021 power grid failure, chiding him for supporting legislation that banned abortion from six weeks of pregnancy and included no exceptions for rape. and incest

“He signed the most extreme abortion ban in America,” O’Rourke said of the Texas law that took effect after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion.

“This election is about reproductive freedom,” the Democrat said. “If you care about this, you should come and vote. I will fight to make sure that every woman in Texas can make her own decisions about her own body and her own future and our own health care.”

Mr. Abbott stood his ground, saying that Mr. O’Rourke takes the “most extreme” position on abortion.

“He not only supports the abortion of a fully developed child until the last second before birth, but he is even against providing medical care to a baby who survives an abortion,” she said. “He is for unlimited abortion at taxpayer expense.”

Mr. O’Rourke and the Democrats pray that he can change the governor’s mansion.

But he has struggled to build on the success he had in 2018 when he came within 3 points of defeating Sen. Ted Cruz, the polarizing conservative firebrand.

Mr. Abbott entered the head-to-head showdown on Friday in the driver’s seat.

The Real Clear Politics polling average showed Mr. Abbott with an 8-point lead in the race, with Election Day five weeks to go.

In fact, poll after poll this year has shown that Mr. Abbott is ahead.

Mr. O’Rourke is navigating a challenging political landscape this round in Texas, where President Biden’s approval rating is through the roof.

Biden’s focus on immigration, energy and inflation has proven deeply unpopular in the deep red border state, creating headaches for O’Rourke and other Democrats.

A Quinnipiac University poll released this week showed that the top issues on Texas voters’ minds are the Texas-Mexico border (38 percent), abortion (17 percent), and inflation (11 percent). hundred).

The issues transcend party lines.

Republicans’ top concerns are the border (66 percent) and inflation (20 percent), and Democrats’ top concerns are abortion (36 percent), gun policy (16 percent) and electoral laws (12 percent).

Among independents, the Texas-Mexico border ranked first (37 percent), followed by abortion (16 percent).

Seeking to snatch his momentum, O’Rourke launched a preemptive attack on Abbott before the debate.

Democrats and parents and family members of the victims of the Uvalde school shooting held a news conference to demand that the governor call a special legislative session to pass a new law that raises the minimum age to purchase an assault weapon from 18 to 21 years.

The Uvalde shooter used two AR-15-style rifles he purchased days after his 18th birthday to kill 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary.

O’Rourke, in the debate, said that the majority of Texans supported the proposal.

“It has been 18 weeks since their children were killed, and nothing has changed in the state to make it less likely that any other child will encounter the same thing,” he said. “All we need is action, and the only person standing in our way is the Governor of the State of Texas.”

“After all these mass shootings, this governor has done nothing but make it easy for people who shouldn’t have to wear them publicly,” he said.

Mr. Abbott downplayed the attack.

Citing court rulings, Abbott said raising the age to purchase an assault weapon has been shown to be “unconstitutional.”

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

“Any attempt to try to increase the age will be rejected,” he said. “So we need to get to the bottom of what is really affecting our communities. And that’s the mental health that’s leading people to get involved in school shootings and Texas is already addressing that.”


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