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Beto, Abbott dispute gun policies, abortion in Texas Governor Debate

First and only Texas Gov. debate between Greg Abbott and Beto O'Rourke

Santiago Gaughan/The Cougar

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) of Texas and Beto O’Rourke (D) faced off on Friday for the only debate in the Texas Governor race. The candidates clashed over significant issues in the debate including immigration, abortion, gun policies, teacher crisis, property taxes and the power grid.

Political organizations at the University such as UH Democrats and Students for Beto hosted a watch party.

“I was happy to see so many UH Democrats coming out to watch the debate,” said civic engagement director for the UH Democrats Mariela Rea. “Everyone was kind and respectful.”


When asked how to alleviate the financial burden on border communities, Abbott criticized the Biden administration for its open border policies. 

“We’ve been working to respond to the disaster caused by the Biden administration that has caused such an economic burden on these communities,” Abbott said. “Remember this, just two years ago we had one of the safest borders in decades.”

O’Rourke responded by pointing out that Abbott will continue to blame people like President Biden to distract from his failures.

 “We are eight years into his time as governor, and this is what we have on our border,” O’Rourke said. 

Furthermore, O’Rourke suggested voluntary strategic deployment for guard members, partnering with local sheriffs and DPS troopers, and working on a Texas-based guest worker program.

In addition, questions regarding migrant busing were raised. Abbott explained that busing immigrants to sanctuary cities have provided overrun border cities relief. However, O’Rourke said, “this is dangerous for Texas and not reflective of our values.”

Gun policies

Presented with demonstrations after the Uvalde Massacre, Abbott expressed his sympathy for the families and children who suffered.

 “We want to end school shootings but we cannot do that by making false promises,” Abbott said. “It’s a false promise to suggest that we can pass a law that will be upheld by the Constitution to raise the age.” 

He explained that a recent Federal Court of Appeals decision on this particular issue ruled that it was unconstitutional for a state to raise the age from 18 to 21 for a person to buy an AR-15. To get to the bottom of school shootings, Abbott claimed that mental health reforms are a more viable solution.

O’Rourke wants to raise the age to purchase an assault rifle, implement red flag laws and require universal background checks. 

“We’ll make progress and take action where this Governor has failed,” O’Rourke said.


Abbott reinforced his pro-life stance on abortion while discussing the effectiveness of reporting cases of rape and incest and the availability of the Plan B pill which can prevent a pregnancy from occurring.

 “Not only is it readily available but the state of Texas is going to pay for it (Plan B pill),” Abbott said. “Our alternatives to abortion program provides living assistance, baby supplies and all kinds of things that can help them.”

“This election is about reproductive freedom,” O’Rourke said. “I will fight to make sure that every woman in Texas can make her own decisions about her own body, her own future and her own health care.”

 Furthermore, O’Rourke denied claims made by Abbott regarding “abortion of a fully developed child to the very last second up until birth.” Instead, O’Rourke explains that he supports the law as it was when Roe v. Wade was in effect.

Power Grid

After the winter storm in 2021 caused millions of Texans to lose power, the reliability and effectiveness of the power grid came into question. In response, Abbott boasted that Texas has some of the lowest power prices in the nation and that its power grid is “stronger than ever.” 

“The laws I signed did secure the grid, ever since I signed those reform laws no Texan has lost power because of the Texas power grid,” Abbott said.

O’Rourke points out that Abbott pushed natural gas prices to their highest allowable rate. 

“Now we are all paying $45 more on average in our monthly utility,” O’Rourke said. “It’s the Abbott tax.”

 Furthermore, he warned the public that the Texas power grid is still not fixed as evidenced by the conservation notices in the summer and that Texas might not be ready for this next winter.

“I think the debate further revealed Abbott’s tired and overused campaign strategy,” Rea said. “Beto initially mentioned that Abbott would throughout the entirety of the debate continue to shift blame onto everyone but the man in charge, which is himself.”

Furthermore, Rea explains that watching this debate, further reassured her of who will place Texas first. This confirmed her opinions about the candidates and assisted her in deciding who to vote for. 

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