Uvalde shooting, border dominate only Texas governor debate

Sep 30, 2022, 1:52 AM | Updated: Oct 1, 2022, 4:17 am
Supporters of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott cheer during his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial ca...

Supporters of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott cheer during his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

              Supporters of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott cheer during his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center, addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Supporters of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott cheer during his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center, addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Supporters of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott cheer during his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center, addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Supporters of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott cheer during his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center, addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Supporters of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott cheer during his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center, addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Supporters of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott cheer during his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center, addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Supporters of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott cheer during his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center, addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Supporters of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott cheer during his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center, addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Supporters of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott cheer during his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center, addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Supporters of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott cheer during his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center, addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Supporters of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott cheer during his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center, addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Supporters of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott cheer during his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center, addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Supporters of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott cheer during his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center, addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addresses supporters after his debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Family of the Uvalde shooting massacre stand with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, right, during a pre-campaign debate news conference, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Edinburg, Texas. O'Rourke will face Gov. Greg Abbott in a debate Friday evening. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              After taking a five-hour bus trip, family of the Uvalde shooting massacre stand with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, center, during a pre-campaign debate news conference, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Edinburg, Texas. O'Rourke will face Gov. Greg Abbott in a debate Friday evening. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              After taking a five-hour bus trip, family of the Uvalde shooting massacre stand with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, center, during a pre-campaign debate news conference, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Edinburg, Texas. O'Rourke will face Gov. Greg Abbott in a debate Friday evening. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Family of the Uvalde shooting massacre stand with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, center, during a pre-campaign debate news conference, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Edinburg, Texas. O'Rourke will face Gov. Greg Abbott in a debate Friday evening. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke greets family of the Uvalde shooting massacre before a pre-campaign debate news conference, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Edinburg, Texas. O'Rourke will face Gov. Greg Abbott in a debate Friday evening. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, right, greets family of the Uvalde shooting massacre before a pre-campaign debate news conference, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Edinburg, Texas. O'Rourke will face Gov. Greg Abbott in a debate Friday evening. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              After taking a five-hour bus trip, family of the Uvalde shooting massacre speak in support of Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, second from left, during a pre-campaign debate news conference, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Edinburg, Texas. O'Rourke will face Gov. Greg Abbott in a debate Friday evening. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              FILE - Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Aug. 4, 2022. Abbott is scheduled to hold a debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke on Friday. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

EDINBURG, Texas (AP) — Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday night that Texas would send busloads of migrants who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to more cities and Democrat challenger Beto O’Rourke pledged tighter gun laws as parents whose children were killed in the Uvalde school shooting stood outside an auditorium hosting the only debate before November’s election.

The promises reflected how Abbott and O’Rourke are eager to spotlight starkly different issues with just three weeks before early voting begins in a competitive Texas governor’s race that is one of most closely watched — and expensive — of the 2022 midterms.

On abortion, which is now banned in Texas, Abbott didn’t waver over signing a law that allows no exceptions for rape victims as the restrictions create stumbles for some Republicans who have been wary of voter backlash.

But Abbott was more assured while defending his dramatic steps on the Texas border that are the centerpiece of his campaign for a third term. Sharing a stage with O’Rourke for the first time, Abbott boasted about a $4 billion operation that has included migrant jails and buses to New York, Chicago and Washington and criticized President Joe Biden by name as much as his underdog opponent sitting across from him.

He did not say where Texas would next send buses that have refocused the race on immigration but defended the destinations to some of the nation’s largest Democratic-led cities as practical and not political.

“There will be other cities in the future that also will be on the receiving end of migrants, because we will continue to have to move migrants because Joe Biden continues to allow more illegal immigrants to come into the state of Texas,” Abbott said.

O’Rourke called the mission a failure and attacked Abbott over the number of migrant crossings remaining high despite the governor’s escalating mission over the past year.

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

The debate had no live audience, but outside the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, parents of some of the 19 children killed in the Robb Elementary School massacre stood in support of O’Rourke after lashing Abbott over his rejection of new gun laws.

The presence of five Uvalde families in Edinburg, a border region that has emerged as a central backdrop for November’s midterm elections, underscored the sustained anger over one of America’s deadliest classroom shootings.

Polls show a single-digit race, but the stakes in the debate were especially high for O’Rourke in what remains an uphill climb to become the first Democrat to win statewide office in Texas in nearly 30 years.

Abbott, a potential 2024 presidential contender who in eight years as governor has loosened Texas’ firearm restrictions and signed a law doing away with background checks for concealed handguns, waved off calls for stricter gun controls since the Uvalde attack, which also killed two teachers.

Uvalde families have put at the top of their demands raising the minimum age to purchase an AR-15-style rifle like the one used in the shooting from 18 to 21 years old. Florida raised the minimum age weeks after the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 under a law signed by then-Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Abbott has said that raising the age would be “unconstitutional” because of recent court rulings, an assessment criticized by legal experts.

“No parent should lose a child and we want to do everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen. We want to end school shootings,” Abbott said of raising the age to purchase AR-15-style weapons. “‘But we cannot do that by making false promises.”

O’Rourke, who has been haunted in his campaign by his support of confiscating such weapons while running for president in 2019, did not directly answer when asked if he still supported the position. “I’m for making progress,” he said.

Like many Democrats running in November, O’Rourke is drawing on outrage over abortion access and mass shootings — issues that have energized voters elsewhere. But as Texas Democrats also know, those same issues have failed to carry them in past elections.

Although no other debates between the two are planned, it will hardly be the last time that more than 17 million registered voters in Texas will see Abbott and O’Rourke on television before the Nov. 8 election.

Both are blitzing airwaves with attack ads in what will wind up as one of the country’s most expensive races this year. Abbott stockpiled nearly $50 million before O’Rourke even entered the race last year and this week launched new spots calling the Democrat a “con artist.”

O’Rourke, who remains one of the Democrats’ most prolific fundraisers after his failed runs for Senate in 2018 and president in 2020, quickly pulled in more than $30 million in the first half of the year and attacked Abbott over Texas’ new abortion ban in his first ads this month.

___

Associated Press writer Jake Bleiberg contributed to this report.

___

Find more AP coverage of the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and https://twitter.com/ap_politics

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

The Prime Minister of Finland Sanna Marin gestures as she talks with Australian Prime Minister Anth...
Associated Press

Finnish PM warns Russian win would empower aggressors

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin warned an Australian audience Friday that a Russian victory over Ukraine would empower other aggressors and urged democracies against forming “critical dependencies” on authoritarian states such as China. Marin was speaking in Sydney at the end of the first-ever visit by a Finnish prime minister to […]
22 hours ago
President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron stand on the stage during a State Arrival ...
Associated Press

To boost Georgia’s Warnock, Biden heads to Massachusetts

WASHINGTON (AP) — To help Democrats win their 51st Senate seat in a Georgia runoff election, President Joe Biden is headed to … Massachusetts? Days before polls close on Tuesday, Biden still has no plans to visit Georgia. Instead he’ll aim to help Sen. Raphael Warnock’s reelection campaign from afar with appearances Friday at a […]
22 hours ago
Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal, left, returns a ball to Norway's Casper Rudd as they visit the ...
Associated Press

AP Week in Pictures: Latin America and Caribbean

Nov. 25-Dec. 1, 2022 This photo gallery highlights some of the most compelling images made or published by Associated Press photographers in Latin America and the Caribbean. It was curated by AP photo editor Tomas Stargardter in Mexico City. Follow AP visual journalism: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/apnews AP Images on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AP_Images AP Images blog: http://apimagesblog.com Copyright […]
22 hours ago
An emciated sheep walks on the dry bed of the Cconchaccota lagoon in the Apurimac region of Peru, F...
Associated Press

Lagoon dries up as drought grips Peru’s southern Andes

CCONCHACCOTA, Peru (AP) — From her home under the baking sun of Peru’s southern Andes, Vilma Huamaní can see the small Cconchaccota lagoon, the axis of her community’s life. It has been a source of trout, fun for children eager to swim, beauty as flamingos flew from over the mountains and water for thirsty sheep. […]
22 hours ago
File - Construction continues on a new wing of the American Museum of Natural History, the Richard ...
Associated Press

Jobs report to show whether hiring is slowing as Fed wants

WASHINGTON (AP) — When the government issues the November jobs report on Friday, it could provide clarity on whether hiring and pay growth are gradually cooling — a trend that the Federal Reserve sees as vital in its fight against high inflation. In a closely watched speech Wednesday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell pointed to a […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: December 2, Senate condemns McCarthy

Today in History Today is Friday, Dec. 2, the 336th day of 2022. There are 29 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Dec. 2, 1954, the U.S. Senate passed, 67-22, a resolution condemning Republican Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin, saying he had “acted contrary to senatorial ethics and tended to […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Uvalde shooting, border dominate only Texas governor debate