5 takeaways from the Abbott O’Rourke debate in Texas


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (Republican) and Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke quarreled in their first and only televised debate on Friday night, calling each other essentially stateless, and I tried to draw

Hosted by Nexstar Media Group, which owns The Hill, the debate gave candidates the opportunity to argue their policy positions and address issues ranging from the shooting of the Uvalde school to securing teachers to border security. rice field. The candidates touched on several policy stances, but the hour-long debate was mostly civil. Meanwhile, the candidates opened old wounds and tried to portray each other as extremists.

The debate is important for O’Rourke, as recent polls show him trailing Abbott, and provides O’Rourke with a key opportunity to reach voters in the final stages of the campaign. It will be done at the right time. At the same time, the Texas governor’s discourse of the hour came amid speculation that he could run for president in 2024.

Here are five takeaways from the Texas governor’s debate.

The thorns fly, but the debate remains a low-key affair

The hour-long discussion was mostly subdued. I never exploded or raised my voice. But that doesn’t mean Abbott and O’Rourke didn’t take the opportunity to rehash the past and bring up each other’s faults.

“Government Abbott’s grid failures are part of the pattern of the last eight years. Warning, for example, about school violence and gun violence, especially against children, does nothing,” O’Rourke said. . “We were warned of problems within our foster care program, Child Protective Services, but we did nothing and things are getting worse. he didn’t do anything

At the same time, Abbott also touched on the Democrats’ failed attempt to win a Senate seat in 2018 and the White House two years later. He also claimed that O’Rourke was inconsistent in his position.

“He’s confused about the border issue. He disagrees on energy issues like energy jobs and the Green New Deal. He hesitated by defunding the police. That’s the problem.” Whether or not he keeps changing positions,” Abbott said.

Candidates paint each other as extremists

Both candidates tried to cast each other as extremists, albeit in different ways.

One key policy area where attacks were leveled was abortion.

“Beto’s position is the most extreme, because he not only supports abortion until the last minute of the birth of a fully developed child, but even opposes providing medical care to a baby who survives an abortion. Because he supports unlimited abortions at taxpayers’ expense,” Abbott argued.

“That’s not true. It’s a complete lie,” O’Rourke countered. “I never said that. And no one in Texas thinks that. He says that because he signed the most extreme abortion ban in America. is no exception.”

They also branded each other as utterly alienated on issues such as immigration. For example, Abbott alleged that O’Rourke downplayed the situation at the border by stating that it would reduce immigration enforcement.

Biden emerges as a Republican boogeyman

Abbott had many opportunities to criticize President Biden during the debate as he attempted to tie O’Rourke to the presidency amid Biden’s low approval ratings.

Responding to a question about whether the Operation Loan should be given more funding, the governor said, “This is all because Joe Biden neglected his presidential job of securing the border, so we will allocate funds to it. No need,” he said. A star intended to tackle the border crossing between the United States and Mexico.

“We just have to do it because of Joe Biden’s failure, and because Beto will be on the same path to defeat us,” he added.

At one point during the debate, O’Rourke refuted Abbott’s claims against the president, blaming people like Biden, but arguing that “money stays at your desk.”

No mention of Trump

Former President Trump and the multiple state and federal investigations he has been embroiled in have consistently overshadowed the midterm elections, but the former president was never mentioned during the debate.

While the reference to Trump is likely to irritate Republican supporters in Texas, the lack of reference to the former president allowed both Abbotts to focus on state-specific issues.

O’Rourke also believes the key to breaking down relations with voters in Texas is to focus on core issues like immigration, abortion and gun violence.

O’Rourke’s decision to refrain from mentioning Trump comes after criticism that Democrats were too focused on trying to link Republicans with the former president during the last election.

probably not a game changer

Given the civil nature of the debate and the fact that neither candidate exhibited a major shift in rhetoric or policy stance, it’s unlikely that voters will have changed their minds from Friday night’s events.

Given Abbott’s lead in the polls, that’s probably an asset, and given that there was no clear moment when O’Rourke could land a fatal blow against the governor, it’s probably a setback. is.

Instead, O’Rourke will have to become a foil to the incumbent, for whom he served two terms, and believe that his message of change will be enough to sway voters in November.

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