“We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms,” Biden mentioned. “The last thing — the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it. It still matters.”
Abbott’s spokeswoman Renae Eze mentioned in an announcement that Abbott “was clear in telling Texans that COVID hasn’t ended, and that all Texans should follow medical advice and safe practices to continue containing COVID.”
“It is clear from the recoveries, the vaccinations, the reduced hospitalizations, and the safe practices that Texans are using, that state mandates are no longer needed. We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans,” Eze mentioned. “The governor’s focus has been, and always will be, protecting the lives and livelihoods of Texans.”
And his Tuesday strikes got here too late to mollify a few of Abbott’s most vocal conservative critics, who accused the governor of trying to deflect blame after the current deep freeze left thousands and thousands of Texans with out energy and water.
“All he tries to do is hide from the blame,” Luther mentioned. “He’s trying to take away the focus on the power grid issue, which I think he should have taken a lot more blame for that.”
In the latter portion of his second time period, Abbott has confronted stress from factions of the GOP that have been largely silent within the earlier levels of his governorship.
Abbott has mentioned he plans to hunt a 3rd time period in 2022, and will face a main — with Texas Republican Party chairman Allen West refusing to rule out a attainable run.
Some conservative Abbott critics mentioned his Tuesday strikes didn’t go far sufficient, as a result of the governor left county executives the facility to implement their very own restrictions.
Democrats additionally mentioned Abbott’s strikes have been clearly aimed toward mollifying his Republican base.
“There’s no question he’s worried about a primary challenge,” mentioned Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa.
And, with 2024 on the horizon, Hinojosa mentioned: “He wants to get himself in position to be competitive in the Republican primary, and the only way you can do that is if you take extreme measures along the lines of what Allen West and the far right of the Republican Party has been demanding he do in Texas.”
While Abbott has been beneath siege, potential 2022 rivals, together with O’Rourke and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, have been seen. O’Rourke mobilized his community of supporters to achieve out to Texans going through energy and water outages after a historic freeze shut down a lot of the state’s energy grid final month, and criss-crossed the state himself. Castro has additionally been a vocal critic of Abbott, and the previous San Antonio mayor has reached out to mayors to ask how he might assist, Hinojosa mentioned.
“You’re going to have a much stronger field of people in this primary than we’ve had in the past,” Hinojosa mentioned, pointing to O’Rourke, Castro and several other mayors and county executives as potential candidates.
Though Abbott continues to face warmth from the appropriate, he would stay a heavy favourite in subsequent yr’s governor’s race — a actuality that was underscored when different Texas Republicans rallied to his protection Wednesday.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, responding to Biden’s criticism of Abbott, mentioned Biden shouldn’t be “preaching to my state about how to handle this COVID-19 virus.”
“People in Texas don’t really like governments telling them what to do. And I think they’ve tolerated it for as long as they feel like they had to,” he mentioned.