Beto O'Rourke calls Gov. Abbott a 'thug' at SXSW amid heated race for Texas governorship
Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke is expected to speak at SXSW (South by Southwest) on Saturday, a music festival and media event in Austin, Texas.
O'Rourke, a former candidate in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, is running for governor of Texas and sailed through his party's primary at the start of the month. He will face sitting Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
In this Sept. 7, 2019 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, speaks during the New Hampshire state Democratic Party convention, in Manchester, NH. He exited the presidential race on Friday after raising approximately $17 million for his campaign. (Associated Press)
In an extremely close race, O’Rourke narrowly lost his run for U.S. Senate against Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018 and also ran for the Democrats' nomination for president in 2020.
O'Rourke made national headlines with declarations like "hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15" in his campaign, which he has since softened.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, with his wife Cecilia, right, and daughter Audrey, left, arrives for a primary election night event, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in Corpus Christi, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (AP )
The Democrat said earlier this week that he has "no interest in taking" assault weapons from gun owners.
"I’m not interested in taking anything from anyone," O’Rourke reportedly said to reporters in Tyler, Texas. "What I want to make sure that we do is defend the Second Amendment. I want to make sure that we protect our fellow Texans far better than we’re doing right now."
Leading the pack at SXSW is keynote speaker Stacey Abrams, the political leader and bestselling author, who was instrumental in flipping Georgia blue during the 2020 presidential electionand the 2021 Senate runoff.
Fox News' Jessica Napoli, Rémy Numa and Houston Keene contributed to this report.