Transcript for Texas' Abbott, O'Rourke face off in debate
- We've been working to respond to the disaster caused by the Biden administration that has caused such an economic burden on these communities. Farms and ranches that are run over, communities that are disrupted, homes that are invaded. Remember this, just two years ago, we had one of the safest borders in decades. But under the Biden administration, we have more people coming across the border than ever in the history of our country.
Texas has responded by making sure that we have the National Guard and DPS deployed where they're making arrests and turning back illegal immigrants, as well as what we're doing to help local communities by bussing them from the area where border patrol is dropping them off to sanctuary cities in Northeastern parts of the country.
But what we're doing is making sure that we are keeping our communities safe, and this is completely different than the way things would be under Beto because he said months ago, there is no problem on the border. He said that he would reduce immigration enforcement. He even said--
--the 95% of the people coming across the border illegally, he would allow to stay.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Governor. Mr. O'Rourke, I want to give you a chance to respond. And let me just repeat the question first, for our viewers and for you. What would you do to alleviate the financial burden placed on border communities related to migrants crossing over? 60 seconds, please.
BETO O'ROURKE: What we just heard from the governor is what we are likely to hear over the course of this debate. He's going to blame people like President Biden. He's going to try to lie about my record, and he's going to distract from his failures, whether it's his failure to keep the lights on in the grid, his failure to address school shootings, or his failure in immigration.
We are eight years into his time as governor, and this is what we have on our border. In fact, $4 billion into Operation Lone Star, we're seeing not fewer, but more encounters at our border right now. What we need is a safe, legal, orderly path for anyone who wants to come here to work, to join family, or to seek asylum.
If you come to this country, we expect you to follow the law. But on our side, we're going to make sure that our laws reflect our values and our interests. And I'm going to work with local leaders, Republicans and Democrats alike, to make sure that we have a Texas-based guest worker program to alleviate shortages that we have in our state for labor demands and reduce inflation and--
--address supply chain issues as well.
- What would you do, if elected, to prevent this from happening again? You have 60 seconds.
- Just like you, I'm a parent. With Amy, we're raising Ulysses and Molly and Henry in El Paso. And we are well aware that it's been 18 weeks, and this governor has not lifted a finger to make it any less likely that any of our kids will meet that same fate.
We need change. The governor just talked about mental health care. We are dead last in the nation when it comes to mental health care access. And he took $211 million from the mental health care budget of the state of Texas.
He'll talk about police funding. He failed to fund the police radios in Uvalde, even when that police department asked for them. And you know what? Those radios failed on that day. I want every parent out there to know that the lives of your children are more important to me than the NRA or any special interests or any other political consideration.
I will prioritize them ahead of everything else. And we will take action, and we will make progress. We'll bring Republicans, Democrats, independents alike together, and we'll get the job done, where this--
--governor has failed to do so.
- Governor Abbott, to you now. The families of the victims, the Uvalde School District, the Uvalde County commissioners, the Uvalde City Council, all asked for you to call a special session in the wake of the tragedy. You did not, despite calling them on several other issues in the past. Can you explain why you didn't call a special session? You have 60 seconds.
- I will, but I must first respond to what we have to respond to every single day. Beto's campaign continues to spew lies and false information. He said two things that are completely false. He said that we're last in mental health care.
The fact of the matter is, Texas is now 27th in mental health care because of funding that I provided. Texas has provided more than $25 billion for mental health care in the last three sessions. He also said that we did not fund police radios in Uvalde.
Completely false. We provided $1.6 million for Uvalde alone for their police radio systems since I've been governor. So Beto continues to provide false information. What I want to make sure that the leaders in Uvalde know is as we've shown, we don't need to call a special session in order to take action.
For six consecutive days after the shooting took place, I issued directives to make schools safer and respond to the emergency in Uvalde. And then I remained engaged with the mayor--
--with the local leaders.
MODERATOR: I still want to know, is plan B the alternative when it comes to somebody who is pregnant from rape or incest?
- Well, it depends on what you mean by alternative. An alternative, obviously, is to do what we can to assist and aid the victim. And that is to help get them medical assistance that they need and the care that they need, but also to know what their options are.
They're going to know that the state, through our alternatives to abortion program, provides living assistance, baby supplies, all kinds of things that can help them.
Also, we've increased funding for prenatal and postpartum care.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Governor. Mr. O'Rourke, we're going to stay on the topic of abortion here. Governor Abbott has said that you support abortion on demand. Do you support any limit on when a woman can't have an abortion? And 60 seconds for this question.
- This election is about reproductive freedom. If you care about this, you need to turn out and vote. I will fight to make sure that every woman in Texas can make her own decisions about her own body, her own future, and her own health care.
And I will work with the legislature and my fellow Texans to return us to the standard that Texas women want in the first place, Roe versus Wade. That's the standard that answers your question. But I've got to respond to this, this silliness on plan B, this comment he made about eliminating rape in the state of Texas.
This is an attack on women. More women have been raped in the state of Texas than any other state. There are 3,000 untested rape kits at DPS headquarters, meaning that our ability to bring rapists to justice has declined by half on this governor's watch.
And it's arguable that rapists enjoy more victims-- more rights under Greg Abbott than their victims do because they can sue the families of their victims if they help their victim get an abortion and be able to win--
--a $10,000 bounty in the process.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Mr. O'Rourke. I'll give you a chance to respond, Governor. 30 seconds.
- So once again, I'm going to be doing this a lot. I have to point out a misstatement by Beto. I signed a law that eliminated the rape kit test backlog at the Texas Department of Public Safety. As it concerns abortion, listen, Beto's position is the most extreme because he not only supports abortion of a fully developed child to the very last second before birth, he's even against providing medical care for a baby who survives an abortion. He is for unlimited abortion at taxpayer expense.
- That's not true.
MODERATOR: Mr. O'Rourke, please, 30 seconds to respond.
- It's completely a lie. I never said that, and no one thinks that in the state of Texas. He's saying this because he signed the most extreme abortion ban in America. No exception for rape. No exception for incest. It begins at conception, and it's taking place in a state that is at the epicenter of a maternal mortality crisis. Thanks to Greg Abbott, three times as deadly for Black women. I will fight to make sure that every woman makes her own decisions about her own body, her own future, and her own health care. That's what most of us, Republicans and Democrats--
--in this state believe.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.