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Texas Gov. Abbott faces backlash after lifting coronavirus restrictions

March 4, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 21.6%. 1 min read.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott delivers an announcement in Montelongo's Mexican Restaurant on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Lubbock, Texas. On Tuesday Governor Abbott announced that he is rescinding executive orders that limit capacities for businesses and the state wide mask mandate. (AP Photo/Justin Rex)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is facing a torrent of criticism over his surprise decision to roll back his state's mask mandate and business restrictions -- moves that strategists and activists in both parties said are aimed at appeasing an impatient Republican base ahead of his 2022 reelection bid and with an eye on the 2024 presidential race.

(CNN)Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is facing a torrent of criticism over his surprise decision to roll back his state's mask mandate and business restrictions -- moves that strategists and activists in both parties said are aimed at appeasing an impatient Republican base ahead of his 2022 reelection bid and with an eye on the 2024 presidential race.

While his sudden decision might please some Republicans, Abbott faced sharp criticism from President Joe Biden, who on Wednesday said he and the Mississippi governor, Tate Reeves, who has announced similar moves, are guilty of "Neanderthal thinking. "

Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, a potential Abbott opponent in the 2022 governor's race, called Abbott's decision "a death warrant" and said the governor "is killing the people of Texas. " San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called it "pretty mystifying" and "ignorant. " The first sentence in a Fort Worth Business Press editorial said: "It's official: Greg Abbott is a moron. "

Abbott has said he plans to seek a third term in 2022, and could face a primary -- with Texas Republican Party chairman Allen West refusing to rule out a possible run.

Some conservative Abbott critics said his Tuesday moves did not go far enough, because the governor left county executives the power to implement their own restrictions.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, responding to Biden's criticism of Abbott, said Biden should not be "preaching to my state about how to handle this COVID-19 virus. "

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