Beto O’Rourke, the former congressman and failed Democratic Senate and presidential candidate, ripped Gov. Greg Abbott Wednesday for rescinding the state’s coronavirus mask mandate, painting Texas as a “failed state” as it recovers from severe winter weather and the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a televised interview with MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace Wednesday, O’Rourke claimed that “they literally want to sacrifice the lives of our fellow Texans for, I don’t know, for political gain, to satisfy certain powerful interests within the state.”
Yet it was O’Rourke who as a city council member in 2006 supported a controversial El Paso real estate deal that would have enriched his father-in-law while threatening Mexican-American residents with losing their property via eminent domain, the New York Times reported in 2018 amid his failed Senate campaign to unseat Republican Ted Cruz. (The deal later fell apart.)
Abbott said Tuesday the statewide mask mandate would expire March 10, but he noted that lifting it would not excuse individuals from “personal responsibility.”
But O’Rourke said lifting the mask mandate would “disproportionately” result in the deaths of “Black and Brown Texans” and slammed Abbott and former Gov. Rick Perry’s remarks in the wake of severe winter weather that left millions without power and resulted in deadly outages that left residents without heat in the face of extreme cold temperatures.
“You have anti-government elements literally running the government of the state of Texas,” he said. “I use the phrase failed state because I think when you can’t guarantee the electricity, the heat, the running water, the public welfare and safety, you are about there by any classic definition.”
He also claimed that in his hometown of El Paso there were “280 bodies stacked up in a warehouse” awaiting burial because gravediggers were stretched thin amid a pandemic that killed more than 44,000 residents of the state.
On Twitter Tuesday, O’Rourke had called the mask move “a death warrant for Texans,” accused Abbott of caring “more about energy companies’ profits than keeping Texans alive” and said the governor had “failed to confront the pandemic” before he “botched the vaccine rollout.”
For his part, Abbott announced what he called a “new daily record” in vaccinations Wednesday after more than 229,000 Lone Star State residents received them. That’s up from 216,000 Tuesday, according to the governor, who added that COVID-19 positivity rates and hospitalizations have fallen to a four-month low.
“The high vaccination numbers focused on our senior population will continue to reduce hospitalizations,” he tweeted. “We are able to contain COVID and safely allow Texas to open 100%.”