Uvalde taking pictures, border dominate solely Texas governor debate

EDINBURG, Texas (AP) — Republican Gov. Greg Abbott mentioned Friday night time that Texas would ship busloads of migrants who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to extra cities and Democrat challenger Beto O’Rourke pledged tighter gun legal guidelines as dad and mom whose youngsters have been killed within the Uvalde faculty taking pictures stood exterior an auditorium internet hosting the one debate earlier than November’s election.

The guarantees mirrored how Abbott and O’Rourke are desirous to highlight starkly totally different points with simply three weeks earlier than early voting begins in a aggressive Texas governor’s race that’s one in every of most intently watched — and costly — of the 2022 midterms.

On abortion, which is now banned in Texas, Abbott did not waver over signing a legislation that enables no exceptions for rape victims because the restrictions create stumbles for some Republicans who’ve been cautious of voter backlash.

However Abbott was extra assured whereas defending his dramatic steps on the Texas border which can be the centerpiece of his marketing campaign for a 3rd time period. Sharing a stage with O’Rourke for the primary time, Abbott boasted a couple of $4 billion operation that has included migrant jails and buses to New York, Chicago and Washington and criticized President Joe Biden by title as a lot as his underdog opponent sitting throughout from him.

He didn’t say the place Texas would subsequent ship buses which have refocused the race on immigration however defended the locations to a number of the nation’s largest Democratic-led cities as sensible and never political.

“There will likely be different cities sooner or later that additionally will likely be on the receiving finish of migrants, as a result of we are going to proceed to have to maneuver migrants as a result of Joe Biden continues to permit extra unlawful immigrants to come back into the state of Texas,” Abbott mentioned.

O’Rourke known as the mission a failure and attacked Abbott over the variety of migrant crossings remaining excessive regardless of the governor’s escalating mission over the previous 12 months.

“We’re eight years into his time as governor, and that is what now we have on our border,” O’Rourke mentioned.

The controversy had no stay viewers, however exterior the College of Texas Rio Grande Valley, dad and mom of a number of the 19 youngsters killed within the Robb Elementary College bloodbath stood in assist of O’Rourke after lashing Abbott over his rejection of latest gun legal guidelines.

The presence of 5 Uvalde households in Edinburg, a border area that has emerged as a central backdrop for November’s midterm elections, underscored the sustained anger over one in every of America’s deadliest classroom shootings.

Polls present a single-digit race, however the stakes within the debate have been particularly excessive for O’Rourke in what stays an uphill climb to turn out to be the primary Democrat to win statewide workplace in Texas in almost 30 years.

Abbott, a possible 2024 presidential contender who in eight years as governor has loosened Texas’ firearm restrictions and signed a legislation casting off background checks for hid handguns, waved off requires stricter gun controls for the reason that Uvalde assault, which additionally killed two academics.

Uvalde households have put on the prime of their calls for elevating the minimal age to buy an AR-15-style rifle just like the one used within the taking pictures from 18 to 21 years outdated. Florida raised the minimal age weeks after the lethal mass taking pictures at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive College in 2018 beneath a legislation signed by then-Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Abbott has mentioned that elevating the age could be “unconstitutional” due to latest courtroom rulings, an evaluation criticized by authorized consultants.

“No guardian ought to lose a baby and we wish to do all the pieces we are able to to be sure that doesn’t occur. We wish to finish faculty shootings,” Abbott mentioned of elevating the age to buy AR-15-style weapons. “’However we can’t do this by making false guarantees.”

O’Rourke, who has been haunted in his marketing campaign by his assist of confiscating such weapons whereas operating for president in 2019, didn’t immediately reply when requested if he nonetheless supported the place. “I am for making progress,” he mentioned.

Like many Democrats operating in November, O’Rourke is drawing on outrage over abortion entry and mass shootings — points which have energized voters elsewhere. However as Texas Democrats additionally know, those self same points have failed to hold them in previous elections.

Though no different debates between the 2 are deliberate, it can hardly be the final time that greater than 17 million registered voters in Texas will see Abbott and O’Rourke on tv earlier than the Nov. 8 election.

Each are blitzing airwaves with assault advertisements in what’s going to wind up as one of many nation’s most costly races this 12 months. Abbott stockpiled almost $50 million earlier than O’Rourke even entered the race final 12 months and this week launched new spots calling the Democrat a “con artist.”

O’Rourke, who stays one of many Democrats’ most prolific fundraisers after his failed runs for Senate in 2018 and president in 2020, shortly pulled in additional than $30 million within the first half of the 12 months and attacked Abbott over Texas’ new abortion ban in his first advertisements this month.


Related Press author Jake Bleiberg contributed to this report.


Discover extra AP protection of the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and https://twitter.com/ap_politics

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