Abbott, O'Rourke clash in only Gubernatorial debate

In the race for Governor, the two contenders met face to face Friday in South Texas for the only scheduled debate. 

In the "Rumble near the Rio Grande," incumbent Republican Governor Greg Abbott was quick to characterize challenger Beto O'Rourke as soft on border security.    

RELATED: O'Rourke rallies young supporters in Houston, calling Abbott "worst governor" in the US

"He said months ago, there is no problem on our border," said Abbott of his opponent.

O'Rourke called the billions of state dollars spent on border security wasteful. 

"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," said O'Rourke.

MORE: Texas governor poll: Gov. Greg Abbott extends lead over Beto O'Rourke

On the issue of gun reform, O'Rourke accused Abbott of doing little to stop another Uvalde-style school massacre.

"It's been 18 weeks since their kids have been killed, and not a thing has changed in this state to make it any less likely that any other child will meet the same fate," said O'Rourke.

RELATED: O'Rourke goes after Abbott on abortion, border crisis, power grid and guns during Montgomery Co. rally

Abbott said his hands are tied when it comes to altering the law on so-called assault weapons.

"It is unconstitutional for a state to raise the age from 18 to 21 for a person to buy an AR-15," said Abbott.

The two candidates also clashed over last year's failure of the power grid.

"700 fellow Texans lost their lives because of his (Abbott's) incompetence and his inability to do what was necessary before 2021," said O'Rourke.

"All that Beto does is fearmonger on this issue, when in reality, the grid is more reliable than it's ever been," said Abbott in response.


O'Rourke denied suggestion he seeks to de-fund police and sidestepped a question over his 2019 call for government confiscation of assault rifles.

On the hot button issue of reproductive choice, O'Rourke pledged to restore it while Abbott doubled down on the current Texas ban on nearly all abortions.

The November 8 election is just weeks away.