Abbott hosts event away from GOP state convention


As delegates ate and drank on his tab, Gov. Greg Abbott rallied Republicans to beat Democrat Beto O’Rourke in November in order to keep Texas a conservative state. And he unleashed fresh attacks on President Joe Biden, accusing the Democrat again of not securing the nation’s southern border.

“It was Trump who secured the border. It’s Biden who has made the border a disaster,” Abbott said at the Rustic in Houston, where hundreds of delegates were gathered for the opening reception at the Texas Republican Party convention. “The only thing worse than Biden’s open border policies would be Biden being aided and abetted by Robert Francis O’Rourke on open border policies.”
 
Abbott said that it was important for Republicans to beat O’Rourke in November and stop his “radical leftist agenda.”

“We’re gonna beat the hell out of Beto, and we are going to keep Texas red up and down the entire ballot across the Lone Star State,” Abbott said. “But most importantly, we are going to preserve the values that have made Texas.”

At the event, Abbott’s campaign team unveiled an ambulance with the words “The Real Beto” on the side. It will follow O’Rourke to his campaign events to let Texans know the Democrat is for “open borders, defunding the police and the Green New Deal.

Abbott is running for a third term against O’Rourke, a former congressman from El Paso. Winning in November, particularly by a large margin, could put the governor in the national spotlight as the 2024 presidential contest draws near.

But Abbott’s second term has been challenging. Last year he was criticized over his handling of the winter storm that left millions without power and water and killed at least 155 people.

The Uvalde massacre that claimed the lives of 19 elementary school children and two teachers has also tested Abbott’s leadership. And O’Rourke has called the governor the biggest driver of inflation, as property tax appraisals soar amid the high cost for gas, goods and services.

Abbott mentioned the Uvalde mass shooting during his remarks.

“Let me be clear. We will not tolerate what happened in Uvalde, Texas, period,” Abbott said.

Concerns about the mass shooting could be hurting Abbott’s standing with voters.

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows the governor with a 5-point lead over O’Rourke, down 10 percentage points from a December survey. Abbott’s lead in the most recent Dallas Morning News-University of Texas at Tyler poll a month ago was 7 percentage points.

Abbott, however, enjoys strong Republican support in his race against O’Rourke.

“One thing about the radical leftist ideology is that it could erode the great economy that we have and actually kill jobs in Texas,” Abbott said. “We’re not going to let that happen.”

Unlike previous state conventions, Abbott is not scheduled to address delegates on the convention floor. The opening reception, paid for by his reelection campaign, is the governor’s only official appearance before conventiongoers.

In March Abbott scored an easy primary victory over former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West of Garland and former state Sen. Don Huffines of Dallas.

Most delegates at the convention praised Abbott’s leadership.

“He’s a proven winner and a proven leader,” said Judy Nichols, outgoing chairwoman of the Jefferson County Republican Party. “He’s gotten us through some of the most torturous storms, everything from Hurricane Harvey all the way to COVID. We can have faith that he will help us, not only maximize the coming red wave, but make sure that storms don’t slow us down.”

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