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Texas Dem gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke calls Gov. Greg Abbott a 'thug' and 'authoritarian'

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Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke characterized incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott as an ‘authoritarian thug’ with his ‘own oligarch[s] here in the state of Texas’ within the gas industry, at Saturday’s SXSW music and media event in Austin.

In an hour-long interview with Texas Tribune CEO and co-founder Evan Smith, former congressman and presidential candidate O’Rourke detailed Abbott’s ‘extremism and fringe politics’ that he said were ‘deeply hurting the people of the state of Texas.’   

‘I just had a chance to meet with the ambassador from the EU [European Union],’ O’Rourke said at the top of the interview. 

‘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… [Greg Abbott is] a thug. He’s an authoritarian.’

O’Rourke also accused the longtime Texas governor of overlooking sex-trafficked children in his state in favor of his ‘crazed fixation’ on transgender children. 

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In an hour-long interview with Texas Tribune CEO and co-founder Evan Smith, former congressman and presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke (pictured during the interview on Saturday) detailed Abbott's'extremism and fringe politics' that he said were'deeply hurting the people of the state of Texas'

In an hour-long interview with Texas Tribune CEO and co-founder Evan Smith, former congressman and presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke (pictured during the interview on Saturday) detailed Abbott’s ‘extremism and fringe politics’ that he said were ‘deeply hurting the people of the state of Texas’

Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke characterized incumbent Greg Abbott as an ‘authoritarian thug’ with his ‘own oligarch[s] here in the state of Texas’

In February, the Republican governor launched a directive for state agencies to investigate the parents of children undergoing gender-affirming therapies after officials in the state deemed those therapies ‘child abuse.’ 

But on Friday, a judge halted the practice, saying it went against the state’s constitution. 

‘Those same kids who were rescued from sex traffickers are now being trafficked for sex by their guardians in the state of Texas,’ O’Rourke claimed. ‘The governor knew there was a problem for four months, and he did not do sh**.’

O’Rourke also took Abbott to task over the state’s response to Winter Storm Uri last February, which led to at least 246 reported deaths amid icy conditions and power outages. 

‘He promised all of us in February of last year that will be able to keep the lights on in the state of Texas, [but] the lights went out and the heat failed. And the water stopped flowing because the pipes froze as well. And people lost their lives as a consequence.’  

O'Rourke, pictured on Saturday, accused Texas governor Greg Abbott of overlooking sex-trafficked children in his state in favor of his'crazed fixation' on transgender children

O’Rourke, pictured on Saturday, accused Texas governor Greg Abbott of overlooking sex-trafficked children in his state in favor of his ‘crazed fixation’ on transgender children

Although he ‘didn’t cause the weather,’ O’Rourke said that the gas shortages were caused by Abbott’s incompetence.  

‘The governor, on whose desk the buck stops, was warned repeatedly that we had underlying vulnerabilities in the grid, namely that we had failed to weatherize and winterize the gas supply.’

‘Well, when the temperature dropped last February, the gas supply literally froze at the wellhead and we couldn’t get it to the generators that spin and produce the electricity that power our homes.’

He accused the current governor of being in bed with the gas companies that were unwilling to weatherproof the state’s infrastructure.

‘But when people like Kelcy Warren and other energy company CEOs made more than $11 billion in profit over five days, selling gas for 200 times the going rate, not only did he not claw back those illegal profits, not only was there no justice for [those]… who were killed who literally froze to death in their homes outside in their cars … but he’s taking millions of dollars in payoffs from these same people.’

‘He’s got his own oligarch here in the state of Texas. You think this stuff only exists in Russia or in other parts of the world?’    

A lawsuit has been lodged by Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren against O'Rourke for defamation over similar claims where the candidate'falsely accused' him of'extortion' and'bribery,' according to KVUE - but during Saturday's interview, O'Rourke said that'the best defense against libel is the truth'

A lawsuit has been lodged by Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren against O’Rourke for defamation over similar claims where the candidate ‘falsely accused’ him of ‘extortion’ and ‘bribery,’ according to KVUE – but during Saturday’s interview, O’Rourke said that ‘the best defense against libel is the truth’

When pressed for ‘straight line’ connections between Abbott and energy companies, specifically Kelcy Warren at Energy Transfer Partners, O’Rourke softened. 

‘The facts that I laid out, I think, stand for themselves. And folks are welcome to come to different conclusions if they want to. But I think we have a very clear case of a governor who stands with the corporations and the high-dollar donors.’

A lawsuit has been lodged by Warren against O’Rourke for defamation over similar claims where the candidate ‘falsely accused’ him of ‘extortion’ and ‘bribery,’ according to KVUE – but during Saturday’s interview, O’Rourke said that ‘the best defense against libel is the truth.’ 

‘[Warren] is getting filthy, illegally rich off the natural resources of this state… and Abbott instead of holding him responsible and accountable and getting that money back – and ensuring that he serves some time or there is some justice for what he has done to the people of Texas – takes a one million dollar campaign contribution from him.’

Lawmakers passed legislation to combat grid failures in Texas last year, according to KVUE – but according to O’Rourke, the state still has yet ‘to weatherize and winterize the gas supply,’ adding insult to injury. 

‘He’s accepted more than $4.6 million from the gas supply companies, CEOs and interests who don’t want to invest in winterizing.’

O'Rourke accused Governor Abbott (pictured) of being in bed with the gas companies that were unwilling to weatherproof the state's infrastructure

O’Rourke accused Governor Abbott (pictured) of being in bed with the gas companies that were unwilling to weatherproof the state’s infrastructure

Prior to his 2020 presidential bid, O’Rourke made national headlines with declarations like ‘hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15’ in his campaign, which he has since walked back – but his stance on gun control was also discussed in the interview.

Earlier this year, O’Rourke said he has ‘no interest in taking’ assault weapons from gun owners. 

But in Saturday’s interview, he made the claim that it is ‘easier to carry a gun than it is to vote in the state of Texas’ due to a recently-signed permitless carry law in the state and new rules regulating mail-in ballots. 

‘I don’t think anyone should have [a gun],’ said O’Rourke.

‘If I can find the consensus within the Legislature to have a law in the state of Texas that allows us to buy those AK-47s and AR-15s back, we will.’ 

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