HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM) — The Two Texas Democrats running for president, Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro, generated buzz at the presidential debate in Houston — but for different reasons.
Some political analysts said the Houston debate was O’Rourke’s strongest yet, but that it follows two previous weak performances.
Castro received a lot of criticism after he went after former Vice President Joe Biden.
During Thursday night’s debate, Democrats cheered when O’Rourke, the former El Paso Congressman, said after the deadly mass shootings in his hometown and Odessa, he wants to ban the sale of all assault style rifles and have a mandatory buy-back program for the millions of the firearms people own.
“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15’s, your A-K 47’s,” he said.
After the debate, he was asked if he is too far ahead of Texas.
O’Rourke responded, “I don’t think so. It’s a state that’s proud of its gun ownership because it’s responsible gun ownership, and a number of gun owners shared with me they agreed with my position on that. So I don’t know if it’s too far for any one state or any one politician’s prospects to be the nominee, but I think it’s the right thing to do and I’ve got to say it.”
His remarks come after he’s fallen to seventh place in the national polls.
Rice University political science professor Mark Jones said the debate may provide O’Rourke a little boost.
“When you’re so deep down in the doldrums where Beto is down in the 2-4% range, it’s really tough to move. But I do think he gave it a strong shot and I think he has at least earned enough support that he’s going to keep what he has and maybe gain a little more.”
Jones said O’Rourke will need to raise his poll numbers and money so he can keep campaigning through the first election contest, the Iowa caucus.
“Either he finishes in the top two or three in Iowa, or his campaign is over.”
O’Rourke will remain in Texas this weekend. He will campaign in Katy — a Houston suburb — Saturday and then hold a rally in Plano Sunday.
As for Castro, he came under fire after he criticized former Vice President Biden while discussing their health plans.
He repeatedly asked Biden if he had forgotten what he said moments before.
Though, Castro insisted he didn’t attack Biden personally.
“I’m always ready to prove my point, I did it in a respectful way. I did it about healthcare policy,” he said.
But Professor Jones disagreed.
“Not only was it a negative attack — effectively making it an ageist remark about Biden — that old people are forgetful, but it was wrong in that Biden did not make a mistake… he did not forget something.”
Castro will campaign in Wisconsin Saturday and in South Carolina Sunday.