The candidates acquired no time for introductory feedback and gave 30-second closing remarks, a format that performed to Mr. Abbott’s strengths as a direct, usually terse speaker, and restricted Mr. O’Rourke’s tendency to construct lengthy rhetorical prospers.
And the timing, on a Friday night when many Texans are extra consumed with highschool soccer, appeared prone to cut back the variety of folks watching reside.
Chris Evans, a spokesman for Mr. O’Rourke, stated earlier than the talk that the Abbott marketing campaign had proposed the phrases and wouldn’t settle for any modifications. “They declined to have voters within the viewers,” he stated. An Abbott spokesman, Mark Miner, stated that Mr. O’Rourke was in “no place to run the state if he can’t even comprehend easy debate guidelines.”
Democrats in Texas have pinned their hopes on Mr. O’Rourke earlier than, however to date he has managed solely to be victorious in defeat. In his name-making 2018 run for Senate, he got here inside three proportion factors of unseating Senator Ted Cruz, a robust exhibiting in Republican-dominated Texas, however nonetheless a dropping one.
Friday’s debate, just some weeks earlier than early voting begins in Texas, got here at an important second for each campaigns, particularly Mr. O’Rourke’s. Over the summer time, some polls had advised a tightening race after the Uvalde killings and the Supreme Courtroom’s resolution overturning Roe v. Wade. However newer surveys present Mr. Abbott extra firmly in management, with a lead of about seven proportion factors.
For Mr. O’Rourke, the previous congressman from El Paso and a Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, the talk was an opportunity to recapture momentum and his most direct alternative to prosecute his case towards Mr. Abbott, a two-term incumbent who has led the state for eight years below unified Republican management of state authorities.
For Mr. Abbott, it was an evening to make it by way of unscathed. His marketing campaign had ready for weeks for the encounter, seeing Mr. O’Rourke as a talented debater with vital expertise from his run for president in 2020.