Beto O'Rourke compared current Texas Governor Greg Abbott to a Russian oligarch and proposed a statewide gun buyback program during a Saturday speaking engagement at South by Southwest.
KVUE-10, a local ABC affiliate, reported that O'Rourke was the headline speaker at an event hosted by CEO and co-founder of the Texas Tribune, Evan Smith
Smith asked O'Rourke — who has become known for launching a string of quixotic political campaigns — why he was running for major political office for the third time.
O'Rourke said, "Because I have this extraordinary opportunity to join amazing people in service to my state and to this country. Yet there is no higher honor. I'm grateful for the opportunity, and I love the fact that we're in this race right now."
Smith subsequently asked O'Rourke about his opposition in the gubernatorial campaign — current Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
O'Rourke responded by calling him an "authoritarian."
He said, "I just had the chance to meet with the ambassador from the [European Union]. We talked about the fact that you're seeing the continued rise of authoritarians and thugs across the world, and we have our own right here in the state of Texas."
Smith responded by asking him: "Greg Abbott is a thug in your mind?"
To which O'Rourke responded: "He's a thug. He's an authoritarian. Let me make the case not only to this guy, to his own incompetence, not keep the lights on in the energy capital of the planet last February. But when people like Kelcy Warren and other energy company CEOs made more than $11 billion in profit over five days, selling gas for 200 times the going rate, not only did he not claw back those illegal profits … but he's taking millions of dollars in payoffs from these same people."
O'Rourke added, "He's got his own oligarch here in the state of Texas. You think this stuff only exists in Russia or in other parts of the world?"
Previously, O'Rourke attained a good deal of notoriety for his aggressive stance on gun control.
Notably, during a 2020 Democratic primary debate, he proudly proclaimed, "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47."
However, in mid-March, The Hill reported that O'Rourke told reporters that he wants to "defend the Second Amendment" and that he is "not interested in taking anything from anyone."
Now, O'Rourke is suggested that the state of Texas implement a buyback program encouraging people to sell their firearms to the government.
He told Smith, "I don't think anyone should have [assault-style weapons], and if I can find consensus within the Legislature to have a law in the state of Texas that allows us to buy those AK-47s and AR-15s back, we will."
As Smith noted early on in the discussion, this is O'Rourke's third time running for higher office.
In 2018 he attempted to unseat Ted Cruz from the United States Senate, and in 2020 he tried to secure the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
Beto O'Rourke in Conversation with Evan Smithyoutu.be