Republican Gov. Abbott and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke speak to ABC13 about the Texas border, healthcare, abortion

HOUSTON, TX (KTRK) — We’re less than a month from Election Day, and at the top of the ticket is the governor’s race. Both candidates spent parts of their weekends in Houston, and ABC13 spoke with Republican Gov. Abbott and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke on a variety of topics, including the border.

The Texas-Mexico border is among voters’ top issues, and Gov. Abbott has addressed this with an unprecedented number of migrants entering the United States. He deployed thousands of National Guard troops in Operation Lone Star and built a section of wall in the Rio Grande Valley. In a tweet on Monday, he wrote that the state had bused more than 12,300 migrants to cities of refuge.

“It all started in April when small towns on the Texas border were overwhelmed by Joe Biden’s border policy, 1000, which invited thousands of illegal immigrants into these small towns who were utterly unable to handle it, and they needed relief,” Gov. Abbott said .

When asked if it was performative to send them to the White House or the Naval Observatory (the vice president’s residence), the governor said, “It’s performative to have the vice president of the United States in Houston or Texas and say, that the border is fully secured.”

His opponent, Beto O’Rourke, was fighting in Houston on Sunday and criticized the effort as a stunt.

“We know that busing migrants is not enough,” O’Rourke told ABC13. “We need Texas-based solutions like a Texas-based migrant worker program that brings Republicans and Democrats together. We’re working with our federal partners to make sure anyone who wants to work in this state has a safe, legal route to get here.”

O’Rourke also criticized the governor for not expanding Medicaid and helping some of the millions of uninsured Texans. Texas has more uninsured than any other state. An expansion would bring in federal funds that the state otherwise cannot access.

“The expansion of Medicaid is something that every one of our border states has done. Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico,” O’Rourke said. “Because if we answer yes, we can bring $10 billion of our federal income taxes back to Texas, connect more people to care, lower our property taxes, and create hundreds of thousands of jobs across the state of Texas.”

SEE RELATED: Gov. Greg Abbott discusses key abortion issues, immigration in exclusive ABC13 interview

The governor said it wasn’t that simple.

“Texas has an exceptionally high uninsured population who are legally unable to insure themselves in any of a number of ways,” Abbott said. “You are legally unable to get Medicaid, legally unable to access the Obamacare extension. So the Beto campaign misled Texas, as it did in so many ways.”

We also asked both candidates about women’s reproductive health. Texas abortion law makes no exception for rape or incest. The only allowance is for the health of the mother. But Gov. Abbot told us Sunday that the current law, as written, may not be sufficient for that purpose, even if it doesn’t include rape or incest allegations, which polls show the vast majority of Texans support.

“We need to sort both of them out and make sure the medical profession is doing everything in their power to protect the mother’s life,” Gov. Abbott said. “We must make it clear that the mother’s life is just as important as the child’s life and that doctors must take steps to protect the mother’s life.”

ALSO SEE: Issues Governor Greg Abbott and Beto O’Rourke expected to debate in Edinburgh

The governor also awaits legislation that would restore abortion, some of which he says would go too far in the opposite direction and allow the procedure until the moment before birth.

“What Beto stands for is unlimited abortion at taxpayer expense,” Abbott said. “This is the extreme position on abortion in Texas”

O’Rourke denounced that as wrong, as he did last month during the two candidates’ lonely debate in South Texas.

“That’s ridiculous,” O’Rourke said. “And another lie he’s trying to distract us from and keep us from looking at him, he signed into law the most extreme anti-abortion law in America. It begins with conception. There is no exception for rape or incest.”

O’Rourke says he wants the law as it stood under Roe v. Wade was. And while Abbott wouldn’t say exactly what language changes he would support, or directly answer our questions about exceptions to rape and incest, it’s clear that he wouldn’t support abortions like they did in Texas before the Supreme Court’s decision in were this summer.

For updates on this story, follow Tom Abrahams on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved. Republican Gov. Abbott and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke speak to ABC13 about the Texas border, healthcare, abortion

Russell Falcon

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