Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says that he's 'more powerful than Putin' at state convention

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott The Dallas Morning News via AP

God, guns and Russia.

Those were among the topics Gov Greg Abbott touched on Friday, when speaking to thousands of Republicans gathered for their every-other-year state convention, this time at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

"If Texas was its own country," Abbott said, when he was interrupted by large cheers. "Let me rephrase that. If Texas was its own country again, we'd have the 10th largest economy in the entire world.

"The Texas economy alone is larger than Russia's," he said with a grin. "And that makes me more powerful than Putin."

As the crowd of Republicans cheered, Abbott had one more point to make about Russia and Vladimir Putin.

"I'll tell you this, you had more to do with the outcome of our last presidential election than did Russia," Abbott said.

He said it was nice to be in a crowd of people who believe in God and who, even in the face of tragedy such as the Sutherland Springs church shooting, want to make sure they protect gun rights in Texas.

Democrats chastised the governor.

He "compared himself to Vladimir Putin," said Gilberto Hinojosa, who heads the Texas Democratic Party that will hold its convention in Fort Worth next week. “Texans are demanding real solutions and Republicans are completely and utterly failing.”

But Abbott drew much applause as he rallied the crowd at the convention geared to build political enthusiasm and let delegates approve a platform, party rules and party chair.

He touched on other issues, such as curtailing human trafficking, praising first responders and reining in property taxes.

Abbott, who is seeking re-election this year, faces Democrat Lupe Valdez, former Dallas County Sheriff, in November.

He noted work he's done to secure the state's border, ban sanctuary cities and improve the state's economy.

But he said there's much more he'd like to see done, including giving teachers raises, caring for veterans, ending the so-called Robin Hood school funding process and passing more stringent Voter ID laws.

Property taxes

Abbott told Republicans he is working to keep property taxes from rising even more on Texans, many who fear they are being taxed out of their homes.

Abbott said Democrats are historically the party of high taxes.

And he mentioned Valdez.

“One candidate for governor hasn’t even paid her property taxes,” Abbott said referring to reports that show she didn’t pay some of her property taxes on time.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who also addressed the crowd, mentioned property taxes as well.

"We're going to freeze all taxes for people over 65," he told the cheering crowd.

Blue wave?

As far as the "blue wave" many have predicted is coming this November, Abbott said Republicans can stem that tide.

“We are going to keep Texas red," he said. "We are going to keep Texas free and we are going to keep Texas the greatest state in the United States of America."

Before Abbott took the stage, a message stating that "anything is possible in Texas" was displayed on the wall along with the governor's website — www.gregabbott.com.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley

Republican Party Chair James Dickey speaks to thousands of Republicans in the first general meeting of the state GOP convention. The convention opened June 14 in San Antonio.

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