Beto O' Rourke talks guns, racism and immigration with Texas voters

The Democratic presidential candidate invited ABC News and three Texan voters into his home for "Around the Table," a network series that brings candidates and voters together for a conversation.
7:30 | 09/11/19

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Transcript for Beto O' Rourke talks guns, racism and immigration with Texas voters
We're kicking things off at Beto O'rourke's house. We're going to start with flank steaks, broccoli and Amy's famous potato bombs. Reporter: We're in El Paso, Texas. At the home of Beto O'rourke. ABC news has carefully chosen three undecided voters to have dinner with the presidential candidate. Caleb, Tess and Viviana, a retired federal worker who has voted for both Democrats and Republicans in the past. They'll bring their questions to the table for a frank conversation. If you go toe to toe with trump. How are you going to do this. Reporter: To help them decide who will get their vote for the democratic presidential primary. Welcome to "Around the table." Evangelicals have gotten that if we are evangelical we are anti-immigrant, we are not, you know, we're not liberal, we're not involved in social justice. None of those things define me. We feel politically homeless. I didn't vote in 2016 in the presidential election because morally, I couldn't. Why should a pro-life Christian, who is not okay with trump, vote for you? This is a conversation I've had with my mom who raised us in the catholic home and as this state has restricted the right for a woman to make her own decisions about her own body and has closed down so many clinics that provide abortions, they're also closing down clinics at that provide cervical cancer screenings and family planning help. It's about saving lives in this country and our communities. We're in your home in el Paso, Texas. Your community just endured a horrific mass murder. How has your view on gun control evolved, changed, if at all, since the shooting? We have too many guns in this country that are too easily accessed. In every place, almost every place, you can buy a weapon like the military-style assault rifle that was used in El Paso that was designed for no other purpose than to quill people. What is common sense gun reform look like? It would begin with a background check on every weapon purchased and every weapon transferred, ideally. I think you should also have to have a license for owning firearms. You know, we see these murders and perpetrators that are writing white supremacist manifestos who go out there. What are you going to address that? Acknowledging our past and the foundation of this country was built by people enslaved and forced to do it. There's also been, when it comes to communities of immigrants an undercurrent of racism or nativism, and at least we attempted to form a more perfect union. We never stopped trying until now where you have a president who is so openly nativist and racist. And though it is a strong word, it is accurate. Aren't you saying that people who support him are also racist? No, and I don't think, as a country, regardless of the politics, we can afford to write anybody off. And there may be any number of reasons that somebody supports president trump. And I want to be very respectful of that. And I think it's important to describe his actions, his decisions, the consequences of them and make sure that people can make an informed decision going into 2020. Hmm. Reporter: The dinner conversation turns to immigration and whether to decriminalize illegal border so you want to decriminalize? The permanent residents, the green cardholders already here, make them citizens. The dreamers and address refugees and asylum seekers from Central America. In those exception where you have to cross seeking asylum we're going to take care of you. If you still insist on defying our laws, I will reserve the right to criminally prosecute you. I have an aunt. She first came in legal into the country, got her paperwork done. Brought in her husband, then eventually her kids. Because it took so long. The courts are inundated with that stuff. Two of her kids end the up coming into the country illegally, but it took her 20 years, Beto, and a lot of money. After she brought everybody in, two years later she passed away. So it has to be easier, easier for good people that just come here to work. Thank you. What if you have strong feelings about education and how you pay for that? I'm about to graduate, and I'm more scared than anything that I won't be stable. I wouldn't be in college if I didn't have a loan. I remember freshman year being at Texas Tech university and calling my mom, I can come home, do you need me to come home? This is too expensive. We need college to be affordable. A big priority for us. When it comes time to go to college or choose a career, every young person should be able to make that choice without regard to cost. So debt-free higher education and not just tuition, but room and board and books. I love everything you're saying, but I also am like, how? How? It's not inexpensive. And it would require a serious investment. But, it would produce an extraordinary return for this country. It's delicious. This is not the best meal for your heart, but. Can I ask you a question? If you go toe to toe with trump, how are you going to do this? I feel like you're respectful of other people, but we need a bulldog in there. When it comes to debates, to be honest with you, this idea that you can release a canned attack line that you have rehearsed, that stuff is not me. And you were asking me about this earlier. What is success like for you. And success is winning the nomination. Success is defeating trump without compromising myself. And if that's the price, it's going to be somebody else. I got to be me. But you're right. It's a challenge. It's absolutely a challenge. Thank you, sir. Reporter: Any last thoughts? I enjoyed the conversation. Anytime you're in El Paso. Anytime you're in the neighborhood, you're welcome to And in our next "Around the table", voters sitting down with New Jersey senator Cory booker. And the top-polling democratic candidates square off in the first single-night debate right hire on ABC at 7:00 central, 5:00 P in the west.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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