ABC13 speaks with Governor Abbott and challenger Beto O'Rourke on Texas issues

Tom Abrahams Image
Monday, October 10, 2022
Gov Abbott, O'Rourke Campaign in Houston
Both candidates spent parts of their weekend in Houston and ABC13 spoke with Republican Governor Abbott and Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- We are less than a month away from Election Day, and at the top of the ticket is the Governor's race. Both candidates spent parts of their weekend in Houston, and ABC13 spoke with Republican Governor Abbott and Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke on a variety of issues, including the border.

The Texas border with Mexico is among the top issues for voters, and Gov. Abbott has seized on that with unprecedented numbers of migrants crossing into the United States. He has deployed thousands of National Guard Troops in what he calls Operation Lone Star and built a section of a wall in the Rio Grande Valley. In a tweet on Monday, he wrote that the state has bused more than 12,300 migrants to sanctuary cities.

"This all began back in April when small little towns on the Texas border were overwhelmed by Joe Biden's border policies, 1000 that were dumping thousands of illegal immigrants into these small little towns that were completely incapable of dealing with it and they needed relief," Gov. Abbott said.

When asked if sending them to the White House or Naval Observatory (the Vice President's Residence) was performative, the governor said, "What's performative is to have the Vice President of the United States be in Houston or in Texas, and saying that the border is fully secured."

His opponent, Beto O'Rourke, campaigned in Houston Sunday and criticized the effort as a stunt.

"We know that busing migrants isn't going to get the job done," O'Rourke told ABC13. "We need Texas-based solutions like a Texas-based guest worker program where Republicans and Democrats come together. We work with our federal partners and make sure that anybody who wants to work in this state has a safe, legal orderly path to come here."

O'Rourke also criticized the governor for not expanding Medicaid and helping some of the millions of uninsured Texans. Texas has more uninsured than any other state. Expanding it would bring in federal money the state cannot otherwise access.

"Medicaid expansion is something that every one of our border states has done. Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico," O'Rourke said. "Because if we will take yes for an answer, we can bring $10 billion of our federal income taxes back to Texas, connect more people with care, lower our property taxes, create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the state of Texas."

SEE RELATED: Governor Greg Abbott discusses key topics of abortion, immigration in exclusive ABC13 interview

The Texas governor speaks candidly on why he is busing migrants and what legislation he expects to be written in response to one of the nation's strictest abortion laws.

The governor said it's not as simple as that.

"Texas has an extraordinarily high uninsured population that are legally incapable of getting insurance in one of several ways," Abbott said. "They're legally incapable of getting Medicaid, legally incapable of accessing the Obamacare expansion. So, like in so many ways, the Beto campaign has been misleading Texas."

We also asked both candidates about women's reproductive health. Texas' abortion law makes no exception for rape or incest. The only allowance is for the health of the mother. But Gov. Abbot told us Sunday, the current law, as written, may not be sufficient to that end, even if it doesn't include rape or incest allowances, which polling indicates the vast majority of Texans support.

"We must both clarify and make sure that the medical profession is doing everything that they can to protect the life of the mother," Gov. Abbott said. "We must make clear that the life of the mother is just as important as the life of the child and that doctors must take action to protect the life of the mother."

SEE ALSO: Topics Gov. Greg Abbott and Beto O'Rourke are expected to debate in Edinburg

Family members of the victims in the Uvalde mass school shooting will be standing beside Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke as he is expected to focus on gun reform.

The governor also expects bills that would restore abortion, some of which he says would go too far in the opposite direction and allow the procedure up until the moment before birth.

"What Beto stands for is unlimited abortion at taxpayer expense," Abbott said. "That's the extreme position on abortion in Texas"

O'Rourke denounced that as false, as he did during the two candidates' lone debate in south Texas last month.

"That's ridiculous," O'Rourke said. "And another lie that he's using to try to distract us and dissuade us from looking at him, he's signed a law, the most extreme abortion ban in America. It begins at conception. There's no exception for rape or incest."

O'Rourke says he wants the law as it was under Roe v. Wade. And while Abbott would not be specific about what language changes he would support or directly answer our questions about rape and incest exceptions, it is clear he would not support abortions as they were in Texas before the Supreme Court's decision this summer.

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