Greg Abbott and Beto O’Rourke clashed in debate before election

Governor Greg Abbott and Democrat Beto O’Rourke clashed at the governor debate at Houston University, Texas, on Sept. 30.

With no audience due to Abbott’s request, the two candidates repeatedly disagreed and accused each other of lying about major controversial topics such as immigration, gun control and abortion.

The debate started with immigration and the southern border, ranked as among the highest issues for voters across Texas.

Abbott accused President Joe Biden of allowing illegal immigrants to cross the border with deadly drugs, such as fentanyl. He also accused the Biden administration of the economic burden they caused over several communities in South Texas.

“Two years ago, we had one of the safest borders in decades, but under the Biden administration, we have more people coming across the border than ever in the history of our country,” Abbott said.

Abbott approved $4 billion allocated toward border security to deploy thousands of National Safety troops and Department of Public Safety troopers to the Mexican border. Still, he assured the state would not be paying any money because the federal government should step in.

“What we’re doing is making sure that we are keeping our community safe, and this is completely different from the way things would be under Beto because he said months ago,” Abbott said.

Abbott also criticized O’Rourke for constantly switching sides regarding controversial topics and is “flip-flopping.”

O’Rourke responded, “He [Governor Abbott] is going to blame people like President Biden, he is going to lie about my record, and he is going to distract from his failures.”

Regarding the measures Governor Abbott has taken on the Mexican border, O’Rourke said, “When the governor spent 4 billion of our tax dollars on what has turned out to be a political theater for his political career, he promised us that it would deter people from coming to this country. You’ve only seen more people come.”

The two candidates had one point of agreement on immigration — they both said Texas should not spend money on border security and that zero dollars should go to Operation Lone Star.

Gun control policies were addressed after. Both had the chance to respond to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

Abbott said that no parent should lose a child and wants to ensure that it does not happen again. He wants to end school shootings but cannot do that by making false promises.

Abbott said that raising the age to buy an assault-style rifle to 21 is impossible in Texas because the most recent Federal Court Appeals decision states that it is unconstitutional for any state to raise the age from 18 to 21 for a person to buy an AR-15.

He also pointed out that mental health is leading people to engage in school shootings in Texas and that the state government should address that problem.

On the other hand, O’Rourke said that if he is elected governor, he will raise the age from 18 to 21 to buy an AR-15.

“It’s been 18 weeks since their kids have been killed, and not a thing has changed in the state,” Abbott said. “He [Abbott] has done nothing except make it easier for people who should not have firearms to carry them publicly. We need change.”

The two candidates also clashed over red flag laws. Abbott said he does not support red flag laws because they would take guns away from Texas without due process.

He supports making it a felony for someone to lie on a background check, and he approves of making it a crime for criminal gangs to possess guns.

O’Rourke said that these laws would decrease mass shootings around the state and make sure to pass a red flag law and a universal background check.

Another topic they discussed was abortion — both candidates had strong opinions and constantly disagreed.

Both candidates were asked about the overturning of Roe vs. Wade and the state’s reaction to making abortion illegal in Texas.

There is no option for victims of rape or incest in Texas due to the Heartbeat Bill. They can get emergency contraception pills like Plan B, but these pills are often unavailable or it is too expensive for women to afford.

When Abbott was asked if emergency contraception is a viable alternative to abortion for victims of rape or incest, he said that the state would pay for it to make sure that it is available for them. He also said they could assist a victim with medical assistance.

“I will fight to make sure that every woman in Texas can make her own decisions about her own body, her own future, and her own healthcare,” O’Rourke said in response to Abbott.

Beto said that Abbott signed the most extreme abortion ban in the country, with no exceptions for rape, no exception for incest.

Then the debate when onto law enforcement, and Abbott accused O’Rourke of supporting efforts to defund police.

O’Rourke denied the accusation and said, “I want to fund law enforcement, fund training so that everyone is treated equally under the law, and I want there to be accountability for when those officers abuse the public trust.”

O’Rourke then accused Governor Abbott of turning his back on law enforcement when they asked the governor not to sign permitless carry, which allows anyone to carry a gun in public.

“In Texas, we support our law enforcement officers, period,” Abbott’s responded to O’Rourke.

The two candidates also talked about the grid and its inefficiency to provide electricity to Texans during the Winter Storm Uri when Texans did not have access to power.

Abbott said he was very confident about the grid before the 2021 winter storm in Texas and said, “The laws that I signed did secure the grid. Ever since I signed those reform laws, no Texan has lost power because of the Texas power grid.”

O’Rourke, on the other hand, said that Abbott was warned about the problems in the grid, but he did nothing. He said that Texans are now paying an average of $45 more, what he refers to as the “Abbott tax” in our monthly bill.

Early voting runs from Oct. 24 – Nov. 4. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.