O'Rourke, Abbott face off in Texas gubernatorial debate

Beto O'Rourke and Gov. Greg Abbott face each other during a debate.
Beto O'Rourke and Gov. Greg Abbott face each other during a debate. Screenshot / KXAN-TV

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott faced off with his Democratic challenger, Beto O'Rourke, on Friday in their only scheduled debate, with the midterm elections rapidly approaching.

Though Abbott maintains a 7-point lead in the current polls, according to CBS News, this is likely to be among the closest races that the governor has had — he won re-election in 2014 and 2018 by 20 points and 13 points, respectively.

The two candidates sparred over a number of issues, with gun control taking center stage following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, this past May that left 19 children dead. Abbott has been heavily criticized in the months following the shooting, with many saying that he has not done enough to enact reasonable gun control to try and quell the violence.

O'Rourke seemed to agree.

"It's been 18 weeks since their kids have been killed, and not a thing has changed in this state to make it any less likely that any other child will meet the same fate," he said. "All we need is action, and the only person standing in our way is the governor of the state of Texas."

Abbott, though, dismissed claims of his inaction, saying that he was "misled" by "everyone in that room that provided me with the information about what law enforcement did." The governor added that local law enforcement needed to be held accountable for their failure to respond to the shooter.

The debate marked the first time that the men had talked in person since O'Rourke confronted Abbott at a press conference following the shooting, accusing him of being complicit in the deaths of the children.

Beyond gun control, the pair also argued over a number of hot-button issues currently facing Texans. This includes the topic of abortion, where the striking down of Roe V. Wade (1973) has opened the door for states to pass restrictive abortion laws, as well as immigration policy, where the candidates divulged over the issue of Abbott having sent migrants to New York City.

Notably, the debate was held with no live audience, which, according to The New York Timescame at the request of Abbott.

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O'Rourke, Abbott face off in Texas gubernatorial debate