But O’Rourke, the former West Texas congressman, is pushing for three debates as negotiations continue among the campaigns.
Abbott announced he accepted a debate offer in the Rio Grand Valley against O’Rourke, but the Sept. 30 debate is still in the air.
O’Rourke countered saying he wants to do three town hall-style debates across the state -- not just one.
KHOU 11 political analyst Bob Stein said that for Abbott’s campaign, one debate is enough.
“He feels one debate will be sufficient. The polling data now is pretty consistent. The margin that is between the two candidates has shrunk to single digits,” Stein said.
Nexstar, which proposed the late September debate, said in a statement to KHOU 11 News the debate, “is still in negotiations.”
Abbott’s campaign is hoping to capitalize on a made-for-TV debate.
“He said we’ll do one debate -- not any more, but we need to do one debate. And his hope is that that will give him a lot of what we call video clips, mistakes,” Stein said.
But O’Rourke, who has spent the last few weeks traveling and campaigning throughout the state, wants to answer televised questions from voters.
His campaign said, “while Beto has held 80 town hall meetings where he has answered over 500 questions from Texans from any political party in every part of the state, Abbott has not held public town halls where he takes questions in person from those he is supposed to serve.”
Stein said Abbott’s campaign sees an opportunity with O’Rourke chipping away at the governor’s voting coalition.
“You debate him to draw out your base. You debate him to undermine confidence that his base could help win the day for Beto O’Rourke but not more than one debate,” he said.