McALLEN — Republican gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott made his 12th stop in the Rio Grande Valley on Thursday morning, telling a packed crowd at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce that he’s the best choice to help the Valley.
“The people that I’ve worked with down here, they know, or they can see, how genuine I have been and how committed I really am in connecting with the Rio Grande Valley, not just during the remaining months of the election but also in the decade going forward,” Abbott said during the latest installment of the McAllen Chamber and The Monitor’s Newsmaker Breakfast Series. “They can see in me a pathway to greater empowerment for themselves, for their family, and for their community and that’s why I think that I will get the vote in the Rio Grande Valley.”
Carlos Sanchez, executive editor at The Monitor, led the discussion with Abbott, first asking him what the significance of the Valley is to Abbott and his campaign.
“The Rio Grande Valley is so incredibly important for me because … what I’ve focused on is really casting a vision for the next 10 years,” Abbott responded. “You have an explosion going on here in the Rio Grande Valley, also. However, I don’t think it’s been to the same extent that it has been in some other regions in the state of Texas despite the fact that you’re poised for tremendous expansion.
“I want to see more and better jobs coming to the Rio Grande Valley.”
Sanchez later asked Abbott to clarify a comment he made in February, where he referred to Valley corruption as third-world practice.
“This creeping corruption resembles third-world country practices that erode the social fabric of our communities and destroys Texans’ trust and confidence in government,” Abbott said in Dallas Feb. 4.
Sanchez told Abbott that he created controversy when he cited several examples of corruption in the Valley and then compared it to third-world practices.
“Did critics misinterpret your statements or did you misspeak?” Sanchez asked him.
Abbott started his answer by saying it was neither.
“I point out what I think everyone agrees with, and that is that corruption is bad. We don’t want corruption; we want to root out corruption,” Abbott said, without making a direct reference to the Valley.
Sanchez said that no one was arguing that corruption was bad, adding that “I think the concerns that were raised when you made those comments was the context of associating a border community with a third-world country. And I ask again: Did we misinterpret or did you misspeak?”
“Well, what I said is that corruption resembles third-world practices,” Abbott said, adding that he didn’t say where the corruption was, but instead said that everyone in the United States needs to do everything to root out corruption.
“If you wanted to write an article in your paper and say there’s one candidate running for governor who will do all he can to root out corruption in the Rio Grande Valley and another candidate running for governor who is not committed at that same level, I would love the people in the Rio Grande Valley to vote upon that one issue alone,” Abbott said.
Throughout the discussion, Abbott shared bits of his platform, discussing his plan to implement $5 billion to improve roads in Texas and his plan to reform the education system in Texas.
Jane Talbot, an Abbott supporter, said she attended the event because she wanted a chance to interact with him.
“He was thoughtful and truthful,” she said while waiting to take a photo with Abbott. “I do think that as an area, the Republicans and Democrats have to work together, otherwise we will never move forward. I really liked everything he said.”
The Newsmaker Breakfast Series’ previous guests were Democratic U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, writers Ruben Navarrette Jr. and Jonathan Last and former American ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza.
The next installment has not been scheduled yet, Sanchez said.