Immigration, abortion and border security have all been touched on in the contentious and fast-paced Texas Governors’ Debate, where Beto O’Rourke tries to help Democrats retake the far-right state from Greg Abbott and Republicans.
Abbott and his challenger O’Rourke kept their single debate fierce and lively despite a nearly completely empty room on the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley campus in Edinburgh. The lack of a meaningful audience was one of several conditions imposed by the governor, according to the O’Rourke camp, who described the debate offer as a “take it or leave it” type of deal.
Even though the elections will take place in a year of non-presidential midterm elections, voters should be more motivated to go to the polls than before, in large part because of the elimination by the Supreme Court of the United States of the federal right to abortion established by Roe v Wade. in 1973.
“I rule by principle,” Abbott said when asked if he had moved too far to the right. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, Texas enacted a ban on abortion with no exceptions, even for rape or incest.
Abbott said he and his wife are Catholics who have been against abortion all their lives, and he described wanting to share the joys of adoption the couple experienced when they adopted their daughter.
The governor touted the health care options and resources available to women after giving birth, but said an emergency contraceptive pill – like Plan B – could be used to stop a pregnancy before it happens. not happen.
O’Rourke countered, “This election is about reproductive freedom, but I have to respond to that, that Plan B silliness — that comment he made about eliminating rape in the state of Texas.” It is an attack on women.
Abbott has said in recent months that he would “eliminate rape” when pressed to rule out abortion exceptions for rape victims.
“It can be argued that rapists enjoy more rights under Greg Abbott than their victims because they can sue the families of their victims if [the families] to help [the rapists’] victims get abortions,” O’Rourke said, referring to a Texas law that allows private citizens to sue those who help someone get an abortion.
The debate took place in South Texas, an area much visited by Abbott, who has increased the presence of law enforcement on the border with Mexico, apparently to deter human and drug trafficking, in largely through a program called Operation Lone Star.
Abbott’s administration poured more than $4 billion of taxpayer money into the program. And, as the moderator and O’Rourke pointed out, the arrival of immigrants at the Texas border has reached record levels.
“Zero dollars should go to Operation Lone Star and that’s what it would be like if we had a president enforcing the immigration laws of the United States of America,” Abbott said, echoing his frequent criticism. on Joe Biden’s approach to the White House on the border. .
As part of Operation Lone Star, members of the Texas National Guard and soldiers from the state Department of Public Safety were forcibly deployed to the border. Both agencies have since seen members die during the mission.
O’Rourke has previously expressed opposition to the presence of National Guard troops on the border. But on Friday, he said he favors a partnership between local sheriff’s deputies and state troopers with National Guard troops who volunteer for the mission.
This is not the first time that O’Rourke has changed his political positions. He backed a complete ban on high-powered guns when he unsuccessfully ran for president in 2019, but in gun-friendly Texas he insisted people be at least 21 rather than 18 years before you can legally buy such weapons.
Meanwhile, Abbott found himself at one point defending his taxpayer-funded bus transport of migrants and asylum seekers from Texas to Democratic-controlled towns as a way to reduce stress on communities. border. But O’Rourke called the trips mere “political stunts.”
Before the start of the debate, 40% of the 15 people admitted to the session leaned to vote for Abbott, 27% for O’Rourke and 33% were undecided. They were interrogated again later. The results indicated Abbott rose slightly to 43% – but O’Rourke swayed more undecided voters and nearly doubled his gains to 50%.