Davis Hits Abbott With Controversial New Ad, Addressing “Wheelchair”

Like a lightning bolt, the Wendy Davis campaign released a new ad that struck the state of Texas faster than any tornado, hurricane or haboob.  Here’s what everyone is talking about, along with some immediate coverage from the Huffington Post...

The campaign of state Senator and Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis (D) on Friday rushed to defend a controversial ad attacking her opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott (R), after the ad received near-unanimous condemnation from Republicans and members of the media.

The spot attacks Abbott, who is partially paralyzed, for opposing litigation on behalf of disabled victims even though he in 2002 successfully sued for, and won, a large reward due to the accident that led to his paralysis.

“A tree fell on Greg Abbott,” the ad’s narrator says, over an image of an empty wheelchair. “Abbott argued a woman whose leg was amputated was not disabled because she had an artificial limb. He ruled against a rape victim who sued a corporation for failing to do a background check on a sexual predator. He sided with a hospital that failed to stop a dangerous surgeon who paralyzed patients.”

The ad was met with immediate derision from Republicans, who accused the Davis campaign of exploiting Abbott’s paralysis to resuscitate a floundering campaign in Republican-leaning Texas.

Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, called the spot “ridiculous.”

Reached for comment on Friday, a Davis spokesman brushed off the criticism and explained that Texans had a right to know about Abbott’s past history.

“What this ad shows is that after rightly seeking justice for himself, Greg Abbott turned around and spent his entire career denying that same kind of justice to other victims,” Davis communications director Zac Petkanas told The Huffington Post. “Whether they were victims of brutal rape, whether they were disabled individuals, or whether they were patients who were maimed by a surgeon who was under the influence. These are important questions that Texans have a right to know about.”

Petkanas said he wasn’t concerned the ad would backfire for Davis, instead insisting that it raised “legitimate questions” about the attorney general.

Whatever one’s initial reaction, the ad seems to have already accomplished its primary purpose for the Davis campaign… everyone is talking about it. That fact in itself raises awareness about the election and ups name ID for Davis when the Democratic candidate needs it the most. The more people that talk about it, the more will watch.

Abbott’s response to the TV spot was swift and expected. His campaign immediately condemned Davis for “attacking a guy in a wheelchair”. It’s a reasonable move by the campaign, and at the outset would seem to point to a clear advantage for Abbott.

But that defense can only last for so long before enough people actually see the spot, and join in the questions it raises. If Abbott was able to win a successful lawsuit from his life-altering event, why does he feel that other Texans don’t deserve the same rights to justice that he exercised and received? Given how Abbott himself has often volunteered, even promoted the sensitive information surrounding his accident, is that subject not “fair game” for Davis to discuss, especially when talking about the Attorney General’s clear record of hypocrisy? Soon, Greg Abbott will have to stop taking offense, and start giving substantive answers.

UPDATE: Wendy Davis herself has now defended the new ad via Twitter and Facebook, saying that she has some nothing wrong.

https://www.facebook.com/wendydavistexas/posts/10154745499045094

The reactions to the ad are coming back swiftly, but apparently, some news outlets are beginning to change their mind.  On Monday, Davis held a press conference with Disabled supporters that in part discussed similar stories to those in the ad.  Here’s coverage of that via the Chronicle

Davis set up the press conference, which featured more than a dozen disabled supporters, after her latest campaign ad that centered on Abbott’s own disability proved to be incredibly divisive, netting mostly negative reviews even among liberal media outlets.

The ad discusses Abbott and his support for tort reform, which came years after he received what’s believed to be at least a $10 million settlement when a downed tree branch partially paralyzed him. The ads starts, “A tree fell on Greg Abbott…”

Abbott supporters and conservative news organizations jumped on the incident, saying the staffer “dragged” White across the stage. The Washington Free Beacon, a right-leaning news outlet, called the move ”awkward,” linking to a video entitled, “Poor advance work at Wendy Davis presser.” Townhall.com called the move “absolutely shameless.”

“These critics have obviously never met someone with cerebral palsy before,” added White, who can walk and drive a car independently. “Our movements are awkward. It’s part of the condition.”

White also clashed with Abbott supporters and staffers including campaign advisor Dave Carney, criticizing them to apologize for tweeting out an article that called the disabled Wendy Davis supporters members “props.”

Here are some tweets from Lamar White Jr. following the press conference…

Lamar White Jr

Clearly some in the Right-wing blogosphere may regret their hasty reaction to today’s events.

What do you think of the new ad? Is it offensive? Could it be a game-changer for either candidate? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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7 thoughts on “Davis Hits Abbott With Controversial New Ad, Addressing “Wheelchair””

  1. Greg Abbott exploited his own disability when he appeared on the cover of Texas Monthly, shotgun over his shoulder and in a wheelchair. Caption: “The Gov.”

  2. Wendy Davis is right to go for it in this ad. Greg has used his disability in pleanty of ads and talks. It is time for the state to know the truth about his behavour. He is not fit to be Governor, and does not deserve it.

  3. Pointing out the hypocrisy is exactly what she is doing. OK for him but not OK for anyone else, and he defends that position in court??

  4. Two of Greg Abbott’s own ads show him in his wheelchair. In one ad he is pushing himself up the ramp of a parking garage, supposedly a re-creation of his self-imposed rehab as an example of his ability to be a good governor, despite the fact that there’s no real connection between the two. In the other, he’s pushing himself in his wheelchair past a long line of cars, touting what he will do to relieve the traffic in cities. He used the wheelchair in both gubernatorial debates, restricting his opponent to sitting at a table as well. His wheelchair is little more than a prop to gain sympathy from voters who see the wheelchair and don’t think of what he has done while in office. As attorney general, he’s supposed to represent the interests of the people of Texas. Instead, he’s used his office to represent the special interest groups of Texas and elsewhere, anyone who can reciprocate with a major donation to Greg Abbott.

  5. Wendy is doing exactly what she should be doing and moving up in the polls because of it. It would sure be nice to see Abbott’s camp on Election night as disbelieving as Romney’s was in 2012.

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