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[WATCH] Beto O’Rourke Calls Texas Gov. Abbott a ‘Thug’ and ‘Authoritarian’

[WATCH] Beto O’Rourke Calls Texas Gov. Abbott a ‘Thug’ and ‘Authoritarian’

Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate for Texas governor, has likened his Republican opponent to the Russian president Vladimir Putin, calling Greg Abbott an “authoritarian” and a “thug”. O’Rourke, the former congressman and candidate for both US Senate and the Democratic presidential nomination, spoke at the SXSW Festival in Austin, the state capital.

As governor, Abbott has presided over draconian laws on issues including abortion, LGBTQ+ rights, and voting rights. In February 2021, on his watch, a failure of the state energy grid during cold weather contributed to hundreds of deaths.

Speaking to Evan Smith, a co-founder of the Texas Tribune newspaper, O’Rourke said, “I just had a chance to meet with the ambassador from the [European Union]. We talked about the fact that you’re seeing the continued rise of authoritarians and thugs across the world. And we have our own, right here, in the state of Texas.” Smith asked, “Greg Abbott is a thug in your mind?”

“He’s a thug, he’s an authoritarian,” O’Rourke replied. “Not only could this guy, through his own incompetence, not keep the lights on in the energy capital of the planet last February, but when people like Kelcy Warren and other energy company CEOs made … $11bn in profit over five days – selling gas for 200 times the going rate – not only did [Abbott] not claw back those illegal profits, not only was there no justice for more than 700 people who were killed – who literally froze to death in their homes, outside, in their cars, people who are paying now tens of billions of dollars cumulatively to pay for the property damage that the flooding that ensued caused in their homes – but he’s taking millions of dollars in payoffs from these same people…I mean, he’s got his own oligarch here in the state of Texas.”


O’Rourke also linked Abbott to Putin when discussing a new elections law, which critics say seeks to reduce participation among those likely to vote Democratic. “You think this stuff only exists in Russia or in other parts of the world?” said O’Rourke. “It’s happening right here. You think they rig elections in other parts of the planet? It is the toughest state in the nation in which to vote, right here.”

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On Saturday, O’Rourke said he would seek to “work with Republicans” on gun control reform and also discussed immigration and shared his thoughts about President Joe Biden – who he said was “not a drag on anyone”.


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