Editor’s Note: This story contains explicit language.
AUSTIN, TX (TEXAS GRANDSTAND) – Beto O’Rourkethe Democratic gubernatorial candidate, said Saturday he was taking the latest polls putting him behind the governor. Greg Abbott by an average figure with a “grain of salt”.
O’Rourke spoke for an hour Saturday with New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright on day three of the Texas Tribune Festival. His appearance came less than two months before the November election, when he challenges the incumbent Republican president.
O’Rourke is currently trailing Abbott by 7.5 percentage points in the RealClearPolitics Poll Average. A Spectrum News/Siena College investigation published on Wednesday found O’Rourke losing to Abbott, 50% to 43%, among likely voters.
Speaking to Wright, O’Rourke repeated the age-old political maxim that the only poll that matters is the poll on Election Day. He also pointed out that in his successful run for the US Senate in 2018, he topped the polls finishing less than 3 percentage points of the Republican U.S. Senator. Ted Cruz.
“I take these polls with a grain of salt,” O’Rourke said of the latest polls.
O’Rourke said he’s betting on a large number of voters who disagree with Texas’ recent abortion restrictions following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. He pointed out that voters have been spurred on by the issue of abortion rights in places like Kansas, which organized a referendum on the right to abortion in August and gave the Democrats a victory by a surprisingly wide margin.
O’Rourke doesn’t regret facing Abbott at Uvalde
Responding to a question from the audience, O’Rourke suggested he had no regrets interrupt an Abbott press conference in the days following the Uvalde school shooting in May.
“No, I don’t regret being here,” O’Rourke said. “I wanted to fight for those families in Uvalde, for our families across the state. The best time to stop the next school shooting is now.
At the May 25 press conference, O’Rourke stood up and walked to the scene blaming the shooting on Abbott’s refusal to consider new gun restrictions. The confrontation prompted an angry reaction from Republicans on stage with Abbott, including Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, who called O’Rourke a “sick son of a bitch.”
O’Rourke led an intensive campaign to curb gun violence after the Uvalde massacre. He focused most intensely on raising the age to buy an assault rifle from 18 to 21, a proposition that Abbott argued would be “unconstitutional”. President of the Texas House Dade PhelanR-Beaumont, said Friday at the Festival de la Tribune that his room will not accept any proposals to raise the agesaying that “the votes are not there.”
O’Rourke promises Democrats he won’t let them down in South Texas
Democrats got a wake-up call in 2020 in South Texas, a predominantly Hispanic region where President Joe Biden has significantly underperformed. O’Rourke said Republicans “came forward with a very strong and compelling economic message” and that former President Trump offered a “false choice” between closing businesses and reopening them during the coronavirus pandemic.
“What did we have on our side?” Nothing,” O’Rourke said. “Candidate Biden didn’t spend a dime or a day in the Rio Grande Valley — or really anywhere in Texas, for that matter — once we got to the general election home stretch.”
O’Rourke said Democrats also made a mistake campaigning remotely during the pandemic while Republicans crumbled in person.
Now Republicans are aggressively targeting South Texas, both in the gubernatorial race and in voting contests.
“I’m making sure we don’t commit the same sin that some Democrats before me have committed, which is taking voters of color — black voters and Latinos — for granted,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke noted that his fluency in Spanish is a “competitive advantage,” promising to participate in an all-Spanish debate whether Abbott shows up or not.
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