Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott took his campaign to become Texas’ next governor to the next level Saturday.
In his opponent’s hometown, he told a group of conservative Republicans that he will win the race to replace longtime Texas Gov. Rick Perry — and he will do it by claiming victory from two demographics some believe are crucial for Democrat state Sen. Wendy Davis.
“Not only are we going to win, but we are going to win the women’s vote and we are going to win the Hispanic vote in Texas,” Abbott told hundreds at the national RedState Gathering at the Worthington Renaissance hotel. “Real conservative principles have no limit.
“They penetrate the lives of everyone and benefit the lives of everyone.”
The battle to become Texas’ next governor has become increasingly contentious in recent days since Davis released her first general election television ad that called Abbott a political insider and accused him of “siding with a corporation over a rape victim” when he served on the Texas Supreme Court in 1998.
After Abbott’s speech Saturday — which wrapped up the two-day conservative event that included speakers such as Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz — he briefly responded to the ad.
“There is no state official in Texas who has done more to go after the heinous crime of sexual assault,” Abbott said, adding that he has created two new units to help address that crime and has put thousands of offenders behind bars.
“We are doing more than we ever have to protect victims of sexual assault,” he said. “I’m proud of what I have done to root out sexual assault in the state and improve the health and safety of women in the state.”
Davis spokesman Zac Petkanas said Saturday that Abbott is not the right leader for Texas.
“Women and Texans across the state want a governor who fights for all hardworking Texans,” Petkanas said. “After a young mother was brutally raped in her home by a Kirby Vacuums door-to-door salesman whose company sent him into Texans’ homes without a background check, Greg Abbott sided against the woman.
“This is yet another example of Greg Abbott siding with insiders and against Texans — even when they’re the victims of a brutal rape.”
Despite the Davis’ campaign claims, at least one statewide poll — a Public Policy Polling survey in April — showed Abbott leading the Democrat among women voters by a 49-41 margin.
On Saturday, Abbott capped a day that included speeches from South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., and Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks for America, a national anti-tax grassroots group.
As he spoke, a group of Tarrant County Democrats stood outside the downtown hotel, in a peaceful protest, begging to differ.
They carried signs that read, “Welcome to Ft. Worth, home of Wendy Davis,” “No Abbott,” “Abbott out of touch with women” and more.
“Greg Abbott is out of touch with Texas,” Tarrant County Democratic Party Chairwoman Deborah Peoples said.
Abbott said he’s ready to lead Texas, and fend off “liberals” who “are trying to hijack this state.”
He said Davis, “Obama’s twin,” has the “largest ground game” of any Texas politician and has raised more money than any other Democrat in Texas.
He criticized Davis for many political positions she holds, particularly for standing “for 13 hours to advocate for abortion even after five months of pregnancy.”
“Then, of all things, she went out and said she was pro-life,” Abbott said. “She forgot for a child to have a chance in life, a child must first have a chance at life.”
He said Davis has supported issues ranging from raising taxes and limiting energy production to expanding the nation’s healthcare program in Texas.
“I have news for the Obama Democrats,” Abbott said. “Texans value life, we trust God, we disdain taxes, and Texans know the 2nd amendment and 10th amendment are not suggestions. They are guaranteed rights.”
“We love this state too much to let the next four years in Texas look like the last six years under Obama,” he said. “I will not let them California our Texas.”
He also spoke about working to “remove senseless barriers” for Texans by reducing some licensing requirements. And when touting that Texas has no income tax, he said, “think how many more jobs we could attract to Texas if we also had no business franchise tax.”
Said RedState leader Erick Erickson, “I think Texans are going to be in good hands for the next four years.”