(NewsNation) — Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke said he “knows” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is “scared” to lose his reelection campaign in November and that is why he scheduled their one and only debate for a Friday night.
In Texas, Friday nights are typically reserved for watching high school football, a fact O’Rourke believes did not go over the head of Abbott when he asked the only debate of their race for Texas governor be held on that day.
“Everyone should know the Abbott campaign set the conditions (for the) debate. Nobody could come into the hall, had to be on a Friday night in Texas during football season,” O’Rourke said in a post-debate interview with NewsNation. “I know (Abbott) is scared, otherwise he would have let his constituents in.”
O’Rourke trails Abbott in most polls, the most recent of which by Emerson College and The Hill showed Abbott with an 8-point lead, but O’Rourke believes those polls do not reflect a key demographic of women who are upset over Abbott’s push for a near full abortion ban in Texas.
“It’s not just Democratic women, it’s Republican women, independent women, who are coming to us and saying they will be voting for us in the next election,” O’Rourke said.
Abbott has made national headlines over his handling of immigration at the southern border, which has produced a record-number of migrant encounters in 2022, many of which are in Texas. Democrats, including O’Rourke, have assailed Abbott’s busing of migrants to Democratic cities as a “political stunt.”
Despite polls showing most voters in Texas side with Abbott’s policies on immigration, O’Rourke says Abbott has failed to control the border and the $4 billion Operation Lone Star is evidence of that failure.
“Republicans and Democrats in the state of Texas will push the boundary on what we are able to do if the federal government will not get it done,” O’Rourke said. “The best answer is to work with federal partners, it’s been since Ronald Reagan was president that we had any kind of comprehensive immigration reform in this country. Why not allow Texas to lead?”