Texas Democrat Robert Francis O’Rourke, commonly referred to as “Beto,” told CNN during an interview on Sunday that he wants to pursue gun confiscation if he is elected to be the state’s next governor, and he refused to say that he wanted President Joe Biden to campaign for him in the state.
“Gun control, in particular, was your number one issue in your presidential campaign,” CNN host Dana Bash said in reference to O’Rourke’s failed campaign.
Bash then played a clip from one of the presidential debates where O’Rourke declared, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”
“Is that what you would still do as governor of Texas?” Bash asked O’Rourke.
“Look, we are a state that has a long, proud tradition of responsible gun ownership. And most of us here in Texas do want — do not want to see our friends, our family members, our neighbors shot up with these weapons of war,” O’Rourke said. “So, yes, I still hold this view.”
On #CNNSOTU this morning @BetoORourke said he not only still supports a government confiscation of legally obtained firearms from private citizens, but also confirms that’s what he would do if elected governor of Texas. pic.twitter.com/EOWSWnDs80
— Joanna Rodriguez (@joannamrod) November 21, 2021
Bash later asked O’Rourke about whether he would want President Biden to campaign for him in the state of Texas given Biden’s low approval rating.
“A recent poll shows, though, that just 35 percent of Texans approve of his performance,” Bash said. “Would you like the president to come and campaign with you?”
“This campaign in Texas is not going to be about Joe Biden. It’s not going to be about Donald Trump. It’s not going to be about anyone from outside of our state,” O’Rourke said. “This is going to be about the people of Texas and what the people of Texas want. And I have told you, they want the big things, like jobs, great schools, and making sure everyone can see a doctor. But they also want to see some competence in their government…”
“Does that mean that you would prefer that he not come, based on what you just said?” Bash pressed.
“It means that I’m focused on Texas and on my fellow Texans. Those are the people most important to me,” O’Rourke claimed. “There’s no politician, there’s no other person from outside of this state who can help to change the course of this election for better or for worse.”
Beto O'Rourke doesn’t want Joe Biden campaigning for him in Texas. pic.twitter.com/hvRFnc2bR0
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) November 21, 2021
TRANSCRIPT PROVIDED VIA CNN:
DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
As national Democrats fret over low poll numbers and dissatisfied voters ahead of next year’s midterm elections, in Texas, the state’s most prominent Democrat thinks he’s got a shot.
Former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke announced this week that he will challenge Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott for the statehouse next year, betting that 2022 is finally — finally the year Texas turns blue.
Joining me now is Democratic candidate for Texas governor Beto O’Rourke.
Thank you so much for joining me this morning.
So, you just saw Republicans take the governorship in Virginia, come within striking distance of doing the same in New Jersey. You’re a Democrat running in a red state. It’s a difficult year for your party. So how do you look at all that and say, OK, this is my time to run?
BETO O’ROURKE (D), TEXAS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: It’s not so much my time. It’s the time for Texas to realize our full potential.
We really want to get back to doing the big things in this state, focusing on creating the best jobs in America right here in Texas, world-class public schools for our kids, and moving forward on commonsense ideas like expanding Medicaid, getting away from the extremism and divisiveness of Greg Abbott.
The abortion ban that puts a $10,000 bounty on the head of any Texas woman trying to make her own reproductive health care decisions, the permitless carry bill that he signed into law allows anyone to carry a loaded firearm in public without any kind of background check, without any kind of training whatsoever, these policies that pit Texans against one another are keeping us from doing the big things that we really should be doing.
I want to help bring this state together, not as Democrats and not as Republicans, but as Texans, and get back after doing the big things that Texas used to be known for. So, I don’t know so much about the national political climate. I do know what the people in Texas want. And I want to make sure, as a candidate, as governor, I deliver on that.
BASH: It was — gun control, in particular, was your number one issue in your presidential campaign.
I want to play something that you said on the debate stage in 2019 shortly after a mass shooting in your hometown of El Paso.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O’ROURKE: Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
O’ROURKE: We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Is that what you would still do as governor of Texas?
O’ROURKE: Look, we are a state that has a long, proud tradition of responsible gun ownership. And most of us here in Texas do want — do not want to see our friends, our family members, our neighbors shot up with these weapons of war.
So, yes, I still hold this view. But I also have been listening to my Texans, my fellow Texans who are concerned about this idea of permitless carry that Greg Abbott has signed into law, which allows any Texan to carry a loaded firearm, despite the pleadings of police chiefs and law enforcement from across the state, who said it would make their jobs more dangerous and make it harder for them to protect those that they were sworn to serve in their communities.
So, we don’t want extremism in our gun laws. We want to protect the Second Amendment. We want to protect the lives of our fellow Texans. And I know that when we come together and stop this divisive extremism that we see from Greg Abbott right now, we’re going to be able to do that.
BASH: Staying on guns for a moment, on Friday, a Wisconsin jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse in his murder trial.
Rittenhouse claimed he acted in self-defense when he shot and killed two people and wounded a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year. What’s your reaction to that verdict?
O’ROURKE: I mean, this entire tragedy makes the case that we should not allow our fellow Americans to own and use weapons that were originally designed for battlefield use.
That AR-15, that AK-47 has one, single solitary purpose, and that is killing people as effectively, as efficiently, in as great a number, in as little time as possible. We saw that in Kenosha. We saw that in El Paso, Texas, where 23 people were murdered by someone with an AK-47 just in a matter of minutes.
This is crazy. And we should not come to expect this as a matter of course in America. And the thing is, we don’t have to.
So, here in Texas, where most of us, including myself, grew up learning how to use firearms responsibly, let’s bring that experience and knowledge to bear. Let’s protect the Second Amendment. Let’s also make sure that we protect one another by having commonsense gun laws. I know that we can do it.
BASH: You campaigned for Joe Biden in 2020 at the — after your presidential run came to an end.
A recent poll shows, though, that just 35 percent of Texans approve of his performance. Would you like the president to come and campaign with you?
O’ROURKE: This campaign in Texas is not going to be about Joe Biden. It’s not going to be about Donald Trump. It’s not going to be about anyone from outside of our state.
This is going to be about the people of Texas and what the people of Texas want. And I have told you, they want the big things, like jobs, great schools, and making sure everyone can see a doctor. But they also want to see some competence in their government.
We had an electricity grid failure here in this state this year, though we are the energy capital of North America, millions without power, hundreds who unfortunately died during that disaster. And, even afterwards, our governor has done nothing to protect this electricity grid.
And you’re seeing electricity and natural gas prices continue to increase in Texas, as rate payers pay for the damage done by this governor. People in this state want change. And they’re focused on what’s happening here in Texas, not on what’s going on in the rest of the country.
BASH: Does that mean that you would prefer that he not come, based on what you just said?
O’ROURKE: It means that I’m focused on Texas and on my fellow Texans. Those are the people most important to me.
There’s no politician, there’s no other person from outside of this state who can help to change the course of this election for better or for worse.
BASH: A big issue…
O’ROURKE: And that’s why I’m traveling to every part of this state, making sure that no one is written off and no one is taken for granted and that we keep the focus on Texas.
BASH: I don’t need to tell you a big issue in your state is immigration. There were a record number of apprehensions at the southern border this past year, nearly 1.7 million arrests.
You said this week that President Biden could — quote — “do a better job” at the border. Do you think his policies are contributing to surges there?
O’ROURKE: I don’t think we have seen enough urgency when it comes to rewriting our immigration laws to match the needs and the reality that we see, especially in our border communities.
As I listen to those who live on the border — and, as you know, Dana, my wife and I are raising our kids on the border here in El Paso — we want to make sure that we have the resources to meet some of the challenges that we have. We also want to make sure that the laws that we have on the books are improved to meet some of the reality that we see in our communities.
So, yes, we expect more of our president and those who represent us in Congress, but we also expect more of our governor, who’s using the border right now as a photo opportunity, scapegoating and vilifying immigrants, asking Texans to — quote — “defend themselves” and take matters into their own hands from this invasion, as he describes it.
That’s the kind of dangerous rhetoric that inspired that gunman more than two years ago to come to Texas and kill people, claiming that he was defending this state from an invasion of Hispanics who were coming to take over.
So, we have got to be more responsible. And we have got to be more responsive to what we see happening on the ground right now in Texas. As governor, I’m going to listen to those who understand this issue better than anyone else, the people of the U.S.-Mexico border…
O’ROURKE: … and make sure that we have policy solutions and leadership that reflects that.
BASH: OK, Beto O’Rourke, thank you so much for joining me this morning.