Debate roundup: Democratic hopefuls crisscross Texas

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In 48 hours, the campus of Texas Southern University will be packed as finishing touches get underway for Thursday's Democratic debate, hosted by ABC News.

For 650 TSU students lucky enough to get picked for tickets in the university's lottery, the debate represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the Democratic hopefuls in person, all on one stage.

One student told ABC13's Tom Abrahams he hopes to hear the candidates tackle issues like immigration and education, but the economy is a chief concern among college-aged voters.

Also a concern: with lots of company expected Thursday, more traffic. Here are the road closures around the Houston Democratic debate you need to know about.


Can Elizabeth Warren go head-to-head with President Trump?

The Massachusetts senator, who has emerged as one of the top three Democratic candidates, along with former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, has captured the imagination of Texans.

In spite of some very dark clouds, thousands showed up to hear Sen. Warren speak Tuesday in Austin. Many who got in line along the Colorado River answered the electability question to ABC13's Steve Campion.

WATCH: Warren brings progressive economic message to Austin
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The Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential hopeful is bringing her progressive economic message to Austin.

Bernie Sanders' $16 trillion climate proposal

The Vermont senator is taking the next couple of days to prepare for Thursday's Democratic debate, ABC13's Nick Natario reports.

Sanders, who was recently in Houston for a convention, shared with Eyewitness News his plan to tackle climate change, a proposal with a $16 trillion price tag. It's a policy initiative that would impact Houston's biggest industry: oil and gas.

WATCH: What Sen. Sanders is doing before the debate
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ABC13's Nick Natario shares how Sen. Sanders is preparing for the Houston Democratic debate.

The senator said his plan would help people who lose work by getting them new green jobs. The senator also stressed the importance of gun control following the shootings in Santa Fe, El Paso and Odessa.

Sanders, who ran for president in 2016, has some ground to gain in the Lone Star State. He lost the 2016 Democratic primary to Hillary Clinton. Clinton earned 70 percent of Harris County voters.

Can Kamala Harris find new momentum in Houston?

In addition to climate change and the environment, the 10 Democratic candidates might also share how they want to overhaul the criminal justice system.

It's a topic that California Sen. Kamala Harris hopes to clarify for some voters, after facing tough criticism for her record as the state's attorney general by progressives.

Seven months after Harris burst into the race for the Democratic presidential nomination with a flag-draped launch rally and the confidence of a front-runner, she is facing persistent questions about whether she can recapture the energy of her campaign's opening days.

"She just needs to connect the dots better," said Rebecca Katz, a Democratic strategist. "She had the biggest launch event and the biggest debate moment. When someone is capable of that, it means they can do it again."

Beto O'Rourke names his Texas campaign team

While former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke is not having any public events in Texas prior to the debate Thursday at TSU, he has announced a team to lead his Texas campaign.

Delilah Agho-Otoghile, who served on Stacey Abrams' 2018 campaign for Georgia governor, has been tapped to help O'Rourke win Texas. Winning Texas as a Democrat is one of the strongest arguments his campaign could make as it seeks to win the nomination.

WATCH: Where is Beto O'Rourke?
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ABC13's Tom Abrahams reports on how former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke is preparing for Thusday's Democratic debate in Houston.

O'Rourke is expected to highlight his strengths in Texas after the Houston Democratic debate. Texans will vote on Super Tuesday - March 3, 2020 - when the state's 228 delegates will be awarded proportionally.

Saturday, O'Rourke will knock on doors in Fort Bend County and will also appear at a rally near Plano.

He arrived in El Paso after a weekend trip to New Hampshire and is in debate preparations. Of the ten candidates on the stage, the former congressman from El Paso will be second from the end stage right. He'll be in between entrepreneur Andrew Yang and former HUD Secretary and San Antonio native Julian Castro.

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