KLTV 7 Exclusive: One-on-one with Texas Gov. Abbott

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Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 7:00 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 6, 2022 at 7:32 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Following a business roundtable in Tyler on Wednesday afternoon, KLTV 7 was given the opportunity to talk one-on-one with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. KLTV 7 news anchor Blake Holland conducted the interview and has reached out to the O’Rourke campaign requesting a similar interview.

Blake Holland: Last Friday you took part in the first and what we hear is the only debate scheduled before the election, despite there being offers for more debates. Why only one?

Gov. Greg Abbott: It’s what we’ve done ever since I’ve been governor and it’s happened in other governorships before. It gives people plenty of opportunity to get to hear from the candidates. But the fact of the matter is, the people hear from us all the time. I come to Tyler, to Longview, I go throughout the East Texas region, talking directly to the voters to make sure they hear what I stand for, but also the contrast with how Beto supports open border policies, defund the police, and crushing energy jobs in the state of Texas. So, I’m able to show that contrast whether it be in a debate or talking directly to East Texans.

Blake Holland: Governor, you mention the border. The bussing of migrants to sanctuary cities. Is it a political stunt, or do you see it as a solution to a problem?

Gov. Greg Abbott: It was a solution to a specific problem by the local communities on the border. It was at their request--where you have communities of 5 or 10 or 20,000 people on the border and the Biden administration is dumping off thousands of migrants in tiny little towns on the border, expecting them to take care of those migrants. And the least they can do is to help out those small communities by removing that burden from them and sending them to sanctuary cities. New York, Washington, D.C. and Chicago are self-declared sanctuary cities of millions of people with far more capabilities of dealing with these migrants than the small little towns on the border. So, this is a life preserver for the small communities in South Texas. But also it showed the hypocrisy of these cities in northern regions that were self-proclaimed sanctuary cities. But when they were confronted with the reality of having to step up and live up to what they promised, they were flummoxed and couldn’t do it.

Blake Holland: Governor, you’ve been very vocal about what you need from the Biden administration to help secure the border with Mexico. If re-elected as governor, what can you promise Texans that will you do as a state, if the Biden administration does not fulfill your requests you’ve made, what can you promise them you’ll do as governor of Texas to secure the border?

Gov. Greg Abbott: To be clear, to show that the border can be secured by the President...under President Trump we had the lowest number of people crossing the border illegally in decades. You have to go back to last century to get a number as low based upon the four simple policies that were put in place by the Trump administration. So, what we expect the Biden administration to do is to build a wall, have the remain in Mexico policy, maintain the Title 42 policy and end catch-and-release. And we will be working with Republicans in Congress to hold the Biden administration to that accountability level because this is a problem calused by one person. And that’s Joe Biden. One person can fix it. Joe Biden. And we expect Joe Biden to fix it and we will work with Congress to make sure they hold Biden to the standard of what can be done to secure the border.

Blake Holland: Governor, I want to talk about an ad that your democratic opponent rolled out recently. It features the mother of one of the children killed in Uvalde. In the ad, the mother of Maite Rodriguez says, “Greg Abbott has done nothing to stop the next shooting. No laws passed. Nothing to keep kids safe in school. So, I’m voting Beto for Maite,” Your response?

Gov. Greg Abbott: Listen. For obvious reasons, any parent who loses a child, especially the way this happened, would be very angry. But to be clear, we’ve done a lot ever since the shooting for six consecutive days after the shooting, I issued directives from the governor’s office to make schools safer, as well as to ensure that Uvalde was receiving the emergency aid they needed. Then I worked with the Texas Education Agency and the Texas School Safety Center to ensure that all schools are we’re going to be safe when they opened in August. And that required a statewide effort because every school must be kept safe. And then I announced a chief of school safety and security to make sure that we have one person in charge who is going to be working with all schools across the entire state of Texas to make sure schools are following the standards the state legislature has already passed. Remember this. We passed a lot of laws to make schools safer, and some schools did not follow those laws. Many of the standards were violated by that school in Uvalde on the day of the shooting. You have your exterior doors that are supposed to be locked, the doors to the classroom were supposed to be locked. Both of those standards were violated that day. So, we’re going to have a person in charge now making sure that all schools in the state of Texas are following the safest standards.

Our next question was about the execution of convicted murderer John Henry Ramirez. At the time of our interview, his execution was still hours away. Faith leaders had rallied on Tuesday outside the capitol asking Abbott to halt the execution.

Blake Holland: Two questions here. Will you halt that execution? And as a Catholic, supporters have been critical of you--saying your pro-life stance can’t be taken seriously if it doesn’t apply to both ends of life.

Gov. Greg Abbott: Well, what we’re applying the life standard to is innocent life. There are some people who violate that standard. And it’s not only somebody who kills somebody else, but somebody who has been found by a jury to be an ongoing danger to society. We’re dealing with this right now in Houston, Texas, for example, where we have people who have been arrested for murder, and then they are let out of jail only to kill again. There was someone that arrested for murder last year in Houston, who was let out in a jail and killed a peace officer in September. And so, there are standards that must be met to make sure that we will not be a state responsible for people being killed by a known killer.

Blake Holland: I want to talk about Friday’s debate again. It’s been circulating that you did not want a crowd at that debate. Is that true? If so, why not?

Gov. Greg Abbott: It’s not true. What the truth is, is that this debate proposal was provided to us by this TV network. It had all the standards in of what the debate proposal was, before we said anything about it, and we agreed to it. And for a long time. Beto said he would not agree to it. And finally, he did agree to it. And so, we agreed to the same standards that we agreed to. We sought modifications ourself in that debate standard that were not allowed. And so, we just we accepted the first debate proposal that was given to us, and we abided by the rules. And I think that everyone needs to be a big enough man, if you’re given rules to follow...you should follow those rules without complaining about it.


Watch the full interview here.