Posts tagged with "Texas Governor Greg Abbott"

Beto O’Rourke is escorted out of Uvalde media briefing after confronting Governor Greg Abbott

May 27, 2022

In a stunning moment on Wednesday, May 25, former Representatiave Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) confronted Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) over gun control policy at a press conference at which officials were giving updates on the mass shooting at an Uvalde elementary school, reports the Huffington Post.

“You’re doing nothing. You’re all doing nothing,” O’Rourke told the officials assembled on the stage.

One of them repeatedly shouted back, “Sir, you are out of line!”

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R) told O’Rourke he was “an embarrassment.”

An 18-year-old ran into Robb Elementary School in the small west Texas town on Tuesday, killing 19 children and two teachers with an AR-15 rifle. Seventeen more were injured, Abbott said earlier at the press conference. The man, who was killed by responding officers, had shot his grandmother in the face before driving over to the school. He posted his intentions to Facebook shortly before the rampage, Abbott said.

As Abbott finished his remarks and introduced Dan Patrick, O’Rourke approached the stage to interrupt. His initial remarks were drowned out by crosstalk from different attendees―some cheering him and many others jeering.

O’Rourke made a comment that clearly was directed at Abbott while law enforcement moved to escort him out.

“This is on you,” O’Rourke said. “Until you choose to do something different, this will continue to happen. Somebody needs to stand up for the children of this state or they will continue to be killed just like they were killed in Uvalde yesterday.”

Cody Ytuarte, a carpenter visiting family affected by the shooting, was standing near O’Rourke. He interjected: “This is propaganda, bro. Get out of here. You’re trash, man.”

As O’Rourke exited, some of his supporters chanted, “Let him speak!” One person asked, “How about the First Amendment?”

The Republican elected officials at the dais criticized O’Rourke with varying degrees of subtlety once he was out of the room.“There will be plenty of time to discuss and analyze what happened yesterday,” Patrick said.

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) concurred. “Mayor, I’m sorry you had to witness that outburst,” Phelan said to Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin. “Now is not the time to politicize pain and suffering.”

In his initial remarks, Abbott had acknowledged that “people are rightfully angry about what’s happened,” but he did not offer gun policy solutions. “Now more than ever,” Abbott said, what the Uvalde community needs “is our love.

“What they need is uplifting from all of our fellow Texans and all of our fellow Americans,” the governor said. “And let me emphasize something that I know you all know, but the reality is as horrible as what happened, it could’ve been worse. The reason it was not worse is because law enforcement officials did what they do.”

Abbott called for better mental health care in the west Texas region. But when asked by a reporter whether he would reconsider accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid to that end, he said no.

Patrick similarly suggested there was little policy action that could be taken, saying, “Evil will always walk among us.”v

“In times like this, I’ve seen it … in these other shootings, Sutherland Springs, El Paso, Odessa, Santa Fe, it’s God that brings a community together,” he added, referencing previous mass shootings in the state. “It’s God that heals a community.”

Following the outburst, Abbott criticized the relatively strict gun control policies of states with the nation’s largest cities, including California, Illinois, and New York.

“There are, quote, real gun laws in Chicago,” Abbott said, then claimed that such measures do not work. “Hate to say this, but there are more people who were shot every weekend in Chicago than there are in schools in Texas.”

Research contact: @HuffPost 

‘Neanderthal thinking’: Biden lays into states lifting COVID restrictions

March 5, 2021

President Joe Biden said on March 3 that moves by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves to lift statewide COVID restrictions represented “Neanderthal thinking.”

“I think it’s a big mistake. I hope everyone has realized right now these masks make a difference,” Biden said of the decision to lift mask mandates and other COVID mitigation measures. “We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we are able to get vaccines in people’s arms.”

According to a report by Politico, the president’s remark came after both Texas and Mississippi issued executive orders on Tuesdayflying in the face of health officials who have urged continued COVID restrictions. Biden has signed an executive order requiring mask-wearing on federal property but has little authority to overrule governors and other state and local officials.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R) laid into Biden after his remarks on Wednesday. “President Biden said allowing Mississippians to decide how to protect themselves is ‘neanderthal thinking.’ Mississippians don’t need handlers,” Reeves wrote in a tweet. “As numbers drop, they can assess their choices and listen to experts. I guess I just think we should trust Americans, not insult them.”

Later in the evening, the governor criticized Biden as being out of touch with people who live outside the Beltway.

“Today I feel the same way as I did the day that Hillary Clinton called all of us in Middle America ‘deplorables,’” he said on Fox News, referencing a comment the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee had made about supporters of Donald Trump. “When President Biden said that we were all Neanderthals, it struck me as someone who needs to get outside of Washington, D.C., and actually travel to Middle America.”

In a statement to Politico, Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze said Abbott was “clear in telling Texans that COVID hasn’t ended, and that all Texans should follow medical advice and safe practices to continue containing COVID.”

“The fact is, Texas now has the tools and knowledge to combat COVID while also allowing Texans and small businesses to make their own decisions,” Eze said. “It is clear from the recoveries, the vaccinations, the reduced hospitalizations, and the safe practices that Texans are using, that state mandates are no longer needed. We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans.”

On Wednesday evening, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s top health adviser and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called these actions “ill advised.“ Although coronavirus numbers have declined since January highs, they have seemingly plateaued at levels that have concerned health officials.

“It‘s just inexplicable why you would want to pull back now,“ Fauci said on CNN. “I understand the need to want to get back to normality, but you‘re only going to set yourself back if you just completely push aside the public health guidelines, particularly when we‘re dealing with anywhere from 55,000 to 75,000 infections per day in the United States. That‘s a very, very high baseline.“

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki earlier on Wednesday called on Americans to continue wearing masks and practice other pandemic mitigation measures even as governors in some states lift COVID restrictions, Politico notes.

“This entire country has paid the price for political leaders who ignored the science when it comes to the pandemic,” Psaki said. “People are starting to feel a little bit better in some cases. You go to the grocery store and there’s Clorox wipes available. A year into this, that feels better, but there’s still more that needs to be done. We need to remain vigilant.”

“We’re not asking people just to listen to the president,” she also said. “Of course, we recommend that, but we ask people to listen to health experts, medical experts, the CDC, to Dr. Fauci, to others who are basing their recommendations on how to save people’s lives.”

Research contact: @politico

With Trump oblivious to COVID crisis, GOP begins to break ranks

July 21, 2020

President Donald Trump continues to press for a quick return to life as usual, but Republicans who fear a rampaging disease and angry voters are increasingly going their own way, The New York Times reports.

Indeed, the Times notes, both the president’s “failure to contain the coronavirus outbreak and his refusal to promote clear public-health guidelines have left many senior Republicans despairing that he will ever play a constructive role in addressing the crisis”—with some concluding that they must work around Trump and ignore or even contradict his pronouncements.

In recent days, some of the most prominent figures in the GOP outside the White House have broken with the Denier-in-Chief over issues like the value of wearing a mask in public.

In addition , they have been acknowledging the importance of heeding the advice of health experts, such as  the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Director Anthony Fauci, M.D., whom the president and other hard-right figures within the Administration have subjected to caustic personal criticism.

According to the Times, they appear to be spurred by several overlapping forces— including deteriorating conditions in their own states, the president’s seeming indifference to the problem; and the approach of a presidential election in which Trump is badly lagging his Democratic challenger, Joseph R. Biden Jr., in the polls.

Once-reticent Republican governors are now issuing orders on mask-wearing and business restrictions that run counter to the president’s demands. Some of those governors have been holding late-night phone calls among themselves to trade ideas and grievances; they have sought out partners in the administration other than the president, including Vice President Mike Pence, who, despite echoing Trump in public, is seen by governors as far more attentive to the continuing disaster.

 “The president got bored with it,” David Carney, an adviser to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, said of the pandemic. He noted that Abbott, a Republican, directs his requests to Pence, with whom he speaks two to three times a week.

A handful of Republican lawmakers in the Senate have privately pressed the administration to bring back health briefings led by figures like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, who regularly updated the public during the spring until the president  upstaged them with his own briefing-room monologues. And in his home state of Kentucky last week, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, broke with Trump on nearly every major issue related to the virus, the Times reports.

McConnell stressed the importance of mask-wearing, expressed “total” confidence in Dr. Fauci and urged Americans to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that Trump has ignored or dismissed.

“The straight talk here that everyone needs to understand is: This is not going away until we get a vaccine,” McConnell said on Wednesday, July 15, contradicting Trump’s rosy predictions that the virus “will just go away.”

The emerging rifts in Trump’s party have been slow to develop, but they have rapidly deepened since a new surge in coronavirus cases began to sweep the country last month.

In the final days of June, the Governor of Utah, Gary Herbert, a Republican, joined other governors on a conference call with the vice president  and urged the Administration to do more to combat a sense of “complacency” about the virus. Herbert said it would help states like his own if Trump and Pence were to encourage mask-wearing on a national scale, according to a recording of the call.

“As a responsible citizen, if you care about your neighbor, if you love your neighbor, let us show the respect necessary by wearing a mask,” Mr. Herbert said, offering language

Pence said the suggestion was “duly noted” and said that mask-wearing would be a “very consistent message” from the Administration.

But no such appeal was ever forthcoming from Trump, who asserted afterward that he would never advocate a national policy on mask-wearing or shutdowns.

Judd Deere, a White House spokesperson, rejected criticisms of Trump’s lack of a hands-on approach. “Any suggestion that the president is not working around the clock to protect the health and safety of all Americans, lead the whole-of-government response to this pandemic, including expediting vaccine development, and rebuild our economy is utterly false,” Deere said in a statement.

Research contact: @nytimes