After months of campaigning, Republican Governor Greg Abbott and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke debated in their first and only debate Friday night September 30, 2022.
After the hour-long debate, no candidate really made a striking response. But for undecided voters, received a better idea of where the candidates stand.
The debate was shown live on air and streamed online from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley along the Texas-Mexican border south of San Antonio.
For the debate, each candidate had 60 seconds to answer the question, 30 seconds for follow-up, 30 seconds for rebuttal, and 30 seconds for their closing statement.
Rice University political science professor Mark Jones didn’t believe there was a knockout punch from either candidate. He said:
"O'Rourke performed well and made multiple convincing points, and at times had Abbott on the defensive, but nothing happened in this debate that is likely to move the dial in the race.”
"Tonight, O’Rourke needed a landslide victory, while Abbott needed only a win, tie, or a narrow loss. While reasonable people can differ on whether O’Rourke or Abbott performed slightly better than the other — I would give O’Rourke the slight edge — or were equal, no one who is not a hyper-O’Rourke partisan could conclude that O’Rourke achieved a landslide victory tonight, and that’s what he needed if he was going to change the dynamics of the race."
James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas said Governor Abbott attacked O’Rourke on his honesty and attacked issues that were important to the Republican base. Abbott avoided responding to O’Rourke’s criticisms in the debate. The governor was careful to avoid any comments that could haunt him over the next few weeks leading up to the election on November 8.
"He was successful at calling out O’Rourke for being a liberal and flip-flopping on some issues."
"Abbott did what you'd expect a frontrunner in his position would do, and that is try to deflect the attacks as much as possible. O'Rourke has not led in any single poll that's been publicly released, and there have been a lot of them."
"Did Beto win over undecided voters? Likely a few, but Abbott reinforced his core message, which is what he needed to do."
Governor Abbott said in the debate:
“Beto just wants to perpetuate the open border policies and mis-characterize exactly what's going on. He refuses to acknowledge that the city of El Paso because they were so overwhelmed by Joe Biden's open border policies, they too are having to bus migrants out of their communities because they have no way of keeping them there.”
The governor also added that he provided more funding for education than any other governor in Texas history.
Then for his closing statement, O’Rourke said:
“Look, I don't think that Greg Abbott wakes up wanting to see children shot in their schools or for the grid to fail, but it's clear that he's incapable or unwilling to make the changes necessary to prioritize the lives of our fellow Texans. That's why it's on all of us to make sure that we have change at the ballot box.”
"Debates rarely change the dynamics of high-profile election campaigns.
To watch the full debate, click on the video below and fast forward to the 9-minute mark where the video starts.
Who do you think won the debate between the two candidates for Texas governor?