In a live debate hosted by KSAT-TV in San Antonio, U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) and former U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) clashed over health care, border security, Donald Trump and various claims and accusations lobbed at each other through the campaign. It is likely their only debate.
Hurd said he was the only candidate in the race that would stand up to both Trump and Clinton. Gallego said Hurd “followed the herd” of Republicans criticizing Trump only “after the [Access Hollywood] tape came out.” Hurd said of Trump, “I’ve never endorsed the guy and I’m not going to.” Gallego accused Hurd of being too partisan, and Hurd replied that the bills he has sponsored in Congress have bipartisan support. Hurd repeatedly called Gallego a “career politician,” while Gallego repeatedly said Hurd has “gone Washington.”
Hurd said he would not have received the endorsements of the San Antonio Express-News and El Paso Times had be been as partisan as Gallego suggested. “Those outfits will not be confused with Fox News,” he said.
Hurd said building a wall along the entire Mexican border is the “most expensive and least effective” means of enhancing border security, but local areas should use the best tools that are available, including a wall where it makes sense. “Trade is the lifeblood” of communities on both sides of the “natural border,” Hurd said, adding that he is in favor of trade deals such as NAFTA (which is opposed by Trump).
Gallego said Obamacare needs improvement but should be fixed while Hurd said it should be repealed. “Mr. Hurd is part of that obstruction that people despise,” Gallego said of Hurd’s votes to repeal Obamacare. Hurd said Obamacare was one of the reasons Gallego “got fired two years ago.”
Gallego laughed aloud when the moderator repeated a charge that Gallego was a lobbyist. Hurd said Gallego “got a six-figure contract” from the city of Austin to help them pass bills. Asked about their accomplishments in their respective times in Congress, Hurd cited legislation he has passed while Gallego said “mine are all relative to people … working for constituents and on their behalf.”
Hurd said he likely would not vote to confirm, and would not have given a vote to, Justice Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination if he were in the Senate. Gallego said Hurd is right, because he would simply be following the Republican leader, who does not want a vote to confirm or reject the nomination.
Asked what he admired about his opponent, Gallego said Hurd handled the Texas A&M tragedy with “grace and dignity” when Hurd was the student body president there. Hurd said Gallego was “a great dad.”
In closing remarks, Gallego said “helping people in their everyday lives” is the most important thing a member of Congress can do for the district. Hurd said he would help constituents regardless of whether they voted for him or not. “I’m just getting started,” Hurd said.