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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Beto O’Rourke visits A&M before Election Day

The day before Election Day, Democratic gubernatorial nominee for Texas Beto O’Rourke came to Texas A&M one last time to rally support for his campaign. 

Students filled the ballroom in the Memorial Student Center, or MSC, on Monday, Nov. 7, to listen to O’Rourke’s second speech of the semester on A&M’s campus — the first one taking place on Wednesday, Sept. 8, in Rudder. During the event hosted by Texas Aggies Democrats, O’Rourke criticized current policies and condemned current Gov. Greg Abbott’s decisions regarding gun control, abortion, the LGBTQ+ community, education and more. 

O’Rourke was introduced by political science sophomore Lusinda Garcia who said she voted for O’Rourke because of his stance on raising the minimum wage and teachers’ pay.

“I also voted for Beto [O’Rourke] because, if you want a governor who will fix the grid, who will keep our kids safe in schools and who will be the voice for Texas, make sure that your voice is heard,” Garcia said. 

O’Rourke took the microphone and began reflecting on his campaign over the past year. He soon after began discussing recent school shootings that have taken place in Texas, and said Abbott has not taken steps to prevent this from happening again.

“I think about the things that we cannot accept right now,” O’Rourke said. “Like, the fact that tomorrow will mark 24 weeks since 19 children and two teachers were slaughtered in their classroom in Uvalde, Texas.” 

The shooter was an 18-year-old who legally purchased two AK-47s and rounds of ammunition, O’Rourke said. O’Rourke said he can’t accept the lack of background checks, training and due diligence put in place by Abbott. 

“Those kids were also defenseless against a governor who, despite having five of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history — in just the last five years — has done nothing, but make it easier for those who shouldn’t have a firearm to begin with,” O’Rourke said.

Teachers in Texas are severely underpaid compared to the national level. O’Rourke said that now, on top of their teaching duties, they might find themselves in front of their students defending them against a shooter. 

“We now lead the nation in the number of school shootings, right here in the state of Texas,” O’Rourke said. “Gun violence — the leading cause of death for children and teenagers so often taking place on these campuses across the state of Texas.” 

According to the CDC report in 2020, firearms were the leading underlying cause of death from ages 1-18 with 3,219 deaths. However, in the prior year, only 293 deaths were caused by firearms. Marketing senior Nikhila Bulusu said she has followed O’Rourke’s campaigns since she was a senior in high school.

“[I support his] gun control laws and raising the age limit to buy firearms in Texas, and also [his] pro-choice stance and getting rid of abortion restriction,” Bulusu said.

O’Rourke then went on to discuss his stance on recent abortion restrictions made in Texas. There is a maternity mortality crisis in the state of Texas that is three times more deadly for Black women, O’Rourke said. There is no exceptions for abortion in cases of rape or incest and O’Rourke said he has heard stories where not even the life of the mother was reason enough for an abortion. 

“I have met women in the state, for example, who said, ‘Listen, I was pregnant. It was a planned pregnancy … And we had some awful complications — that fetus was no longer viable … but because I was not close enough to death’s door, the doctor had no choice but to send me home,’” O’Rourke said.

Communications senior Bryleigh Andrews said she found out about the event through The Battalion’s Twitter and signed up to attend because she supports O’Rourke.

“Women’s rights is probably what draws me most to him, but also his gun control laws [are] huge especially considering where things could lead with governor Greg Abbott still in power,” Andrews said. 

Parents of transgender children are being accused of child abuse for affirming their child’s identity, O’Rourke said. 

“You’re too gay in Texas, according to the law, to adopt a child in a same sex household,” O’Rourke said. “That kind of discrimination, though not cool with me, it perfectly legal in the state of Texas.”

However, according to current law, same-sex couples can still legally adopt in the state of Texas. 

Candidate for Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Janet Dudding gave a brief campaign speech of her own at the start of the event. Comptroller is the accountant of Texas that oversees anything relating to money, Dudding said. Dudding wants to bring fast-working internet into rural areas to help improve the market.

“I’m really interested in working with rural governments, utility districts — utility funds within small governments,” Dudding said. “So that we can partner together. They’ve already got the administration built because they are already providing water, sewer [and] electric[ity.] The Internet is just another utility. That will keep the cost down … It’ll provide a revenue stream to rural governments.”

O’Rourke said he urges everyone to vote and to tell their friends and family members to vote in what he calls potentially the most important election of the year.

“I think what we have in common is that we cannot accept things as they are, and know that it is incumbent upon us to do something about that — to change that,” O’Rourke said.

 

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