"Drive for Texas": Beto O'Rourke begins a 49-day campaign trail in northwest Texas

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Thursday, July 21, 2022
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O'Rourke's "Drive for Texas" will consist of him driving 5,600 miles across parts of Texas to rally and speak in hopes of becoming the 49th governor of Texas.

SNYDER, Texas (KTRK) -- Nov. 8, 2022, or Election Day, is 110 days away. At the top of the ticket in Texas is the race for governor between incumbent Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat opponent Beto O'Rourke, who is spending nearly half of that time on the road, traveling across the state.

Thursday was day three of O'Rourke's "Drive For Texas." It's an ambitious campaign tactic in which he spends 49 days on the road and holds 70 events. Recently, he stopped in a part of Texas that is well known for not supporting Democrats in past elections.

Northwest Texas consists of desert and prairie. It is where people live off the oil, wind, and the land. This is where O'Rourke is holding town halls in places like Snyder. The city has a population of 11,211, and just 6,000 people voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020, which is about 85%.

O'Rourke is campaigning in a race he has trailed since his late entry in 2021. Last year, a poll from the University of Houston Hobby School revealed that O'Rourke is just 5% behind Gov. Abbott among likely voters, with more than nine in 10 telling pollsters their minds are made up.

"If you've got a question, if you've got a comment, if you've got an idea, I'm all ears," O'Rourke told his audience in Snyder. "Only ground rules are, let's be respectful. We do not have to agree, and sometimes it's even better when we don't. The folks who are for me, those who are against me, those who have yet to make up their mind. The fact that you are here is a testament that our democracy can still work."

Inside the Scurry County Library, O'Rourke met with his allies and skeptics.

One of the skeptics was a combat veteran named Jimmy.

"I love freedom," Jimmy said with tears in his eyes. "You're trying to take my freedom away.

O'Rourke took his questions and those of others who wore their political affiliation on their sleeves and challenged him about the most stinging topics such as guns, abortion, and immigration.

"I do think that women in this state should be able to make their own decisions about their own body, their own healthcare, and their own future," O'Rourke said as he answered questions regarding a woman's right to choose and Texas' state trigger laws.

Extended interview: ABC13's Tom Abrahams joins anchor Jonathan Bruce for an in-depth conversation on the governor's race and what might be next for Beto O'Rourke

On the topic of immigration and the border, O'Rourke criticized building a wall and Gov. Abbott's deployment of the National Guard and said, "We've got to make sure that if you come to this country, you follow our laws. You do so in an orderly fashion,." he said.

Regarding guns, O'Rourke said the following: "(The) three ideas of universal background checks, of red flag laws, where we can intervene before it's too late, and safe storage, most of us can agree on."

Abbott's campaign spoke to Eyewitness News and said that O'Rourke's positions are unpopular in Texas and that he changes his answers depending on where he is campaigning.

O'Rourke told the audience they may disagree on some issues, and Jimmy, a veteran who fought for his country, said he fears O'Rourke's support of red flag laws would infringe on his second amendment rights.

"Does the second amendment say something about shall not be infringed?" Jimmy asked.

It is unclear if O'Rourke did change his answers while in Snyder, but he listened to those in a town where only 6,000 people voted in the 2020 election.

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