Beto O'Rourke, former Representative from Texas, speaks on the sidelines of the Iowa Democratic Party Liberty & Justice Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. The former Texas congressman said in a blog post earlier in the day that he was ending his bid for the White House amid lackluster fundraising and poor poll numbers. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Source:  Charlotte Pence Bond

In an MSNBC interview with Chris Hayes on Tuesday, Beto O’Rourke was critical of Republican politicians in Texas as the winter storm natural disaster continues to deeply harm the southern state.

“It’s worse than you are hearing,” he told host Chris Hayes. He described the people he’s been talking to, many of whom do not have power and are “desperate” and “suffering.” He explained how almost every major city in Texas would see sub-zero temperatures on Tuesday night, “and many of them will not have electricity, power, or in many instances, water.”

The Hill reported on Wednesday,

“Several people have died and tens of thousands have been left in the dark and cold since Sunday evening after a winter storm moved through a large swath of the state earlier this week.”

O’Rourke said that “far too many have died already,” adding that he is afraid of what will happen in the next twenty-four hours.

“So much of this was avoidable,” O’Rourke said during the appearance. “Going back to the deregulation of our electricity grid here in Texas, which has created an incentive to actually not weatherize or protect against these events.” He claimed that this deregulation has allowed for plants to be shut down, providing opportunities for some to profit off of the increase in energy and electricity prices.

He added, “And then you have the cascading consequences of these stupid culture battles that are led by the GOP and our Governor Greg Abbott.” He said that while there are emergencies taking place, the focus has been on efforts like making Texas “a sanctuary state for the NRA,” debates over “bathroom bills,” or Mark Cuban’s decision not to play the national anthem at Dallas Mavericks games.

The Daily Wire reported on the Dallas Mavericks story, noting that the attempt to ban the anthem was not successful.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass said the league will play the anthem before games as they start to welcome back fans. Stadiums and arenas have generally been empty or limited across professional sports due to coronavirus precautions.

In 2018, when O’Rourke was running for a senate seat against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), he commented on the actions of players taking a knee during the national anthem at sports games.

The Washington Post reported at the time,

Replying to a question about player protests during a recent campaign stop, O’Rourke said that he “can think of nothing more American” than “to peacefully stand up, or take a knee, for your rights.” 

On Tuesday, he expressed his disapproval that attention has been on these cultural debates and “other kinds of stupidity.”

“The energy capital of North America cannot provide the energy needed to warm and power people’s homes in this great state,” O’Rourke continued. “We are nearing a failed state in Texas. And it has nothing to do with God or natural disasters. It has everything to do with the leadership and those in positions of public trust who have failed us.”

O’Rourke went on to describe Governor Abbott’s recent State of the State speech and the five priorities he laid out.

He said, “Nowhere mentioned in those top five priorities was Covid, or the vaccination rollout,” or the need for protection against natural disasters.

The text of Governor Abbott’s prepared remarks for his 2021 State of the State Address, however, shows that he mentioned “Covid” several times, including the discussion of a nurse who “volunteered to be on the frontline in the hospital’s Covid unit.” The governor also added, “If we are going to fully address COVID-related health issues, we must also focus on the mental health challenges that Texans are facing.”

O’Rourke claimed that the Governor’s speech focused on less pressing topics, such as election fraud, which O’Rourke claims is not an issue in Texas.

O’Rourke discussed climate change, and “the changing in the frequency and severity of natural disasters,” saying “we know this stuff is coming. What we don’t know is whether our leaders are prepared to make the tough political decisions to prepare us for that.”