AUSTIN, Texas - Ahead of Tuesday's midterm elections Texas governor Greg Abbott sat down with FOX 4's Steven Dial about some key issues facing the state and what he expects to happen on Election Day.
The governor touched on changes that he plans to make to his immigrant busing program following the election, and changes that he wants to see to Texas's abortion laws.
Gov. Abbott on Voter Turnout
Steven Dial: Does anything stand out to you in terms of turnout or voter enthusiasm as you have been criss-crossing the state?
Gov. Abbott: Two things really stood out to me: One, extreme voter enthusiasm by Republicans who want to make sure we are not going to have the state taken over by a racial leftist agenda. The other thing that stood out is the large number of Hispanics that have been turning out to my rallies. We are winning great support among the Hispanic community across the state.
Steven Dial: I know the Republican Party has put more focus in trying to appeal to Hispanic voters. Tuesday night you are going to be in South Texas. Why are you going to be there? Why McAllen?
Gov. Abbott: When I first announced for governor, when I originally ran back in 2014, I announced my campaign down in the Rio Grande Valley, same thing this go around. I’ve been to the Rio Grande Valley more than any governor in Texas history. So we keep going there, making connections there and that’s one reason why we are seeing a greater percentage of Hispanics in the Rio Grande Valley who are supporting both my campaign, as well as other campaigns, including other campaigns run by Hispanics themselves.
Gov. Abbott on the Border
Steven Dial: Do you think Hispanic voters or just voters in general in South Texas are being motivated as far as voting for Republicans because of what is going on on the border? I know, of course, you will say President Biden is not doing enough. Democrats have said that as well. But do you think that will be a key reason they click your name on Tuesday when they go to the voting booth?
Gov. Abbott: What the Biden administration is doing on the border is leading a lot of people on the border, whether they are Hispanic or not Hispanic to vote Republican. They are angry about what the Biden administration has done with the greatest number of illegal immigrants coming across the border just this year. More than 2.2 million people. Ranches are being ripped apart. Homes are being invaded. Communities are being overrun They are angry, and they know only Republicans are stepping up to secure the border and that is one of the main reasons why myself, as well as other Republicans, will be getting a larger percentage of the vote in counties along the border.
Steven Dial: Will you continue your bus program if you are to be re-elected? Is it something that is just a campaign thing or is this something that is going to continue if you are re-elected?
Gov. Abbott: So what this really is, it was my effort to help local communities on the border who were being completely overrun by migrants that have been dropped off by Border Patrol in small, little towns like Eagle Pass and Del Rio. So I was helping and relieving on the ground in these border towns. That said however, I do expect there to be changes on the federal government side after this election. I expect Republicans to win Congress and the Senate too, and I expect them to alter what is going on, on the border. I expect them to fully fund border security, fully fund Border Patrol, fully fund ICE and do what needs to be done in order for the federal government to once again regain control of our border.
Steven Dial: So you scaling back Operation Lone Star or your bus program, is that contingent upon if Republicans take back Congress?
Gov. Abbott: So the only reason why we have Operation Lone Star and the bus program is because we now have a president who is not securing the border. If we had a president securing the border or if Congress steps up and does their job under Article 1, Section 8 of the constitution then Texas would no longer need to play the same role that we are playing right now.
Gov. Abbott on his Priorities if he is Re-Elected
Steven Dial: If re-elected, what would be one or two of your priorities heading into this new session?
Gov. Abbott: One thing our fellow Texans and Americans are feeling right now is the heavy burden of inflation caused by the Biden administration, as well as concerns about job loss. As we are talking right now Texas ranks number one in the nation as the fastest growing economy and creating more jobs than any other state. Goal number one is to continue Texas being the economic engine for the United States, providing everybody in your audience a pathway to prosperity. Speaking of which, another thing that I will do, I've made this promise, to use about half of the $27 billion dollar surplus that we have to cut property taxes. That will lower the financial burden on people across the state. My opponent is the only candidate in this campaign who actually raised property taxes, he raised property taxes three times when he was on City Council. The last thing we just talked about, and that is to make sure if Congress and if the federal government does not step up to do their job on the border it is going to be essential that I as governor in the state of Texas to do all we can to secure the border.
Gov. Abbott on Uvalde School Shooting
Steven Dial: Do you think accountability is happening fast enough following Uvalde? There is something that comes out almost every week now.
Gov. Abbott: The accountability process, as you point out, has begun but, also as you point out, its happening too slowly. To recap this very quickly, the superintendent for the school is leaving, the police chief for the school has resigned, the entire police department in Uvalde [schools] has been put on suspension. On the state level one person with Texas Department of Public Safety has been fired, several are on suspension as we speak, others under investigation. Bottom line is this, this was a failure on law enforcement at every level, because they did not adhere to the policy that if there is a school shooter on campus you run towards the shooter and take them out. Every law enforcement agency including federal, as well as state and local had a failure in one way or another by not taking that shooter out and there has to be accountability at all levels of law enforcement.
Steven Dial: Do you still have confidence in your DPS director?
Gov. Abbott: What we are looking to do is get all investigations completed and all information available to us so we can make all the best decisions. Part of those investigations have turned out to lead to the suspensions as well as termination of a DPS officer. But I am waiting for the final information from the FBI, from the local district attorney who is investigating this right now, as well as the investigation provided by the Texas Rangers, as well as the legislature themselves.
Gov. Abbott on Abortion
Steven Dial: Do you want the legislature to take any additional actions to what has already passed in the state of Texas and become law in terms of abortion?
Gov. Abbott: There is something that has to be done to both clarify, as well as provide greater details concerning the laws in the state of Texas, and that is to make sure it is clear what it means to protect the life of the mother. We stand for pro-life which is life of not just the child, but also the mother. There's been some doctors who are refusing to address ectopic pregnancies or address miscarriages or address infections that women may have and that’s completely wrong. The life of a woman should not be compromised whatsoever. Perhaps we need to make that very clear, that we will do everything possible, and doctors must to everything possible, to protect the life of the mother.
Steven Dial: Do you want the legislature to address the topic of rape and incest?
Gov. Abbott: There’s going to be a lot of bills that will come up on a lot of issues concerning abortion, and we will see where they go, but my main focus is on protecting the life of the mother.