established Texas Governor Greg Abbott effectively tied his Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke to President Biden’s unpopular policies in a debate between the two, according to an expert in campaign debate preparation.
Abbott and O’Rourke finished Friday at University of Texas Rio Grande Valleywhere the border was a major topic of discussion along with abortion, gun control and energy.
Abbott’s apparent tactic, like other Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections, was to tie O’Rourke to the president, who has struggled with underwater approval ratings for over a year and whose party faces historic headwinds and a series of crises. According to Brett O’Donnell, an expert in advising political candidates to debate effectively, Abbott succeeded.
“Beginning with immigration, which dominated the beginning of the debate, Abbott repeatedly blamed Biden for the crisis and tied O’Rourke as the representative of these failures in Texas,” O’Donnell told Fox News Digital.
O’Donnell, who helped seven GOP candidates win Senate seats in 2014 and did the same in 2016, said this midterm cycle is all about the incumbent.
“In 2014, Barack Obama famously said that “his policies were on the ballot. Every single one of them.” Almost every Republican in 2014 used that line successfully, adding that the politicians in their district or state went by the name of their Democratic opponent. And while Joe Biden hasn’t said exactly the same thing, Republicans have played it as such , ” O’Donnell said.
On immigration, O’Rourke sat on El Paso City Council, where he still lives, tried to blame Abbott for the situation. “We’re eight years into his time as governor, and that’s what we have on our border,” O’Rourke said.
Abbott has taken fire for a program of buses migrants to leftist “sanctuary cities” in recent months, which critics say is a political stunt and exploits the suffering of immigrants seeking better lives for their families. But during the debate, Abbott suggested he would continue the program as the border situation allows the uncontrolled flow of illegal immigration.
“There will be other cities in the future that will also receive migrants because we will continue to have to relocate migrants because Joe Biden will continue to allow more illegal immigrants into the state of Texas,” Abbott said.
O’Rourke made much of the debate over abortion and gun control policies after The Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade in June and the tragic shooting at Uvalde Folkeskole in May.
“O’Rourke wants to make this election about abortion — he said that in the debate,” O’Donnell said.
Abbott said his outlook on life stems from his Catholic faith and the adoption of his daughter and insisted he would govern based on those principles.
“This election is about reproductive freedom, but I have to respond to this, this foolishness about Plan B — this comment he made about eliminating rape in the state of Texas. This is an attack on women,” O’Rourke said . referring to a comment Abbott made about wanting to “eliminate rapists” from Texas.
There was a big midterm question it didn’t come into the discussion, O’Donnell said.
“The two discussed at length immigration, guns, abortion, crime, the grid and taxes, but strangely lacking was a comprehensive discussion of the economy. Perhaps that’s because the Texas economy has been strong. But it’s very telling that the media panel left out a discussion of inflation affecting the everyday lives of every Texan, but spent more questions on abortion,” O’Donnell said.
Abbott accused O’Rourke on several occasions of changing his position.
“John Kerry’s ghost from 2008 was also invoked as Abbott also repeatedly accused O’Rourke of side-stepping issues, starting with his stance on sending troops to the border.”
O’Rourke, whose campaign has been haunted by his past support for confiscating heavy weapons while running for president in 2019, did not directly respond when asked if he still supported the position.
“I’m in favor of making progress,” he said Friday night.
“Abbott effectively made it about Biden-O’Rourke,” O’Donnell said.
The Texas gubernatorial election is November 8th.