SAN ANTONIO – Beto O’Rourke punched out his priorities as a contender for Texas governor and slammed Gov. Greg Abbott during a speech in San Antonio, his first public event since he announced his run.
The Democrat from El Paso spoke about women’s rights, voters’ rights and gun laws, perhaps some of the most polarizing topics in America’s biggest red state. See the full speech in the video player above.
“We’re going to get back to the big things again that unite us, that bring us together and get us past the division, the smallness, the meanness of this moment,” he said, adding that Abbott’s views on abortion and voting are “extremist”
O’Rourke criticized SB 8, a law passed by the Texas Legislature earlier this year that virtually bans abortions in Texas. The law prohibits the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy, and anyone who plays a role in a woman’s decision to get an abortion after that time could be sued.
O’Rourke said the law “places a bounty on the heads of every woman in this state who wants to make her own decisions about her own body and for her own future.”
He also slammed Abbott and Texas Republicans on other controversial bills signed into law this year.
He said the “Constitutional Carry” law was passed “despite the fact that this state has four of the worst mass shootings in the United States history just in the last five years.”
One of those mass shootings took place in his hometown: In 2019, the shooter who was targeting Hispanics shot and killed 23 people at a Walmart.
The law allows anyone 21 years or older, who isn’t prohibited from having a firearm, to carry a handgun without a license.
In response to the new voting law that went into effect despite Democrats’ resistance, O’Rourke said he wants a state where every eligible voter can participate.
SB 1 set new rules for voting by mail, enhanced poll watcher protections, banned drive-thru voting and changed regulations for early voting hours, among other changes.
O’Rourke also said he supported the legalization of marijuana in Texas.
“Why in the world are we locking up our fellow Texans for possession of a substance that is legal in most of the rest of the country right now?” he said.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg attended the event and said he supported O’Rourke as “somebody who we know is going to be working with us instead of against us.”
Both politicians thanked frontline workers for their work during the pandemic
O’Rourke previously ran for the U.S. Senate in 2018, losing to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz by just 2.5 percentage points. He was also a 2020 presidential contender but dropped the bid.
In a news conference on Monday, Abbott said O’Rourke’s values are “hostile to Texas.”