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Beto O'Rourke says he doesn't regret confronting Abbott, other Texas officials in Uvalde after school shooting

AUSTIN, Texas – Beto O’Rourke said Saturday that he doesn’t regret confronting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other officials in Uvalde, exactly four months after a gunman shot and killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School. 

The Democratic candidate in the Texas gubernatorial race interrupted a press conference one day after the shooting, telling Abbott and others who were briefing the community that they were “doing nothing” to stop future massacres. 

On Saturday, O’Rourke once again criticized Abbott for attending a campaign fundraiser about 300 miles from Uvalde just hours after the shooting. 

“Not until the next day does he show up in Uvalde, and the first words out of his mouth… He said, ‘It could have been worse,’ to those families of those children,” O’Rourke said Saturday at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin. 

“So no, I don’t regret being there. I wanted to fight for those families in Uvalde, for our families across the state. The best time to stop the next school shooting is right now, and that means at a minimum, raising the age of purchase for an AR-15 to 21 years.” 

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke interrupts a press conference held by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott following a shooting at Robb Elementary School.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke interrupts a press conference held by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott following a shooting at Robb Elementary School.
(Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images)

The confrontation was immediately criticized by other officials, with Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin calling O’Rourke a “sick son of a b—- that would come to a deal like this to make a political issue.” 

UVALDE INVESTIGATION DETAILS LAW ENFORCEMENT’S ‘SYSTEMIC FAILURES’ IN SCHOOL SHOOTING RESPONSE

Abbott told KENS in July that while at the fundraiser, which took place about 300 miles east of Uvalde in Huntsville, he maintained “contact constantly with either my office or with the Texas Department of Public Safety” to make sure “we were getting all the information that needed to be obtained.”

“And then, importantly, I completely shut down my campaign altogether, and did nothing but focus on the people of Uvalde,” Abbott told the news outlet. 

Beto O'Rourke, Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Texas, during The Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, Texas, US, on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. 

Beto O’Rourke, Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Texas, during The Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, Texas, US, on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. 
(Jordan Vonderhaar/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

O’Rourke has made gun reform the centerpiece of his campaign against Abbott. Last month, he exploded at a heckler who started laughing while the Democratic candidate criticized Texas’ gun laws. 

UVALDE VICTIMS’ FAMILIES TO MEET WITH STATE COMMITTEE INVESTIGATING POLICE RESPONSE TO SCHOOL SHOOTING

“It may be funny to you, mother—-er, but it’s not funny to me,” O’Rourke shouted during the town hall in Mineral Wells. 

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, looks on as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference at Uvalde High School on May 25, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas.  

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, looks on as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference at Uvalde High School on May 25, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas.  
(Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images)

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O’Rourke, who served as a U.S. Congressman representing parts of West Texas before losing to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018 and launching a failed 2020 presidential bid, is an underdog candidate against Abbott in the November gubernatorial election. 

“The fact that children in Texas started this school year, last month, no better protected against an active shooter than those kids in Uvalde at the end of May is an indictment not just on Greg Abbott, but on all of us until we do something about it and change it,” O’Rourke said Saturday. “The best way to change that is to win this election on November 8.”

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