Wendy Davis Defends Her Controversial Wheelchair Ad | KERA News

Wendy Davis Defends Her Controversial Wheelchair Ad

Oct 13, 2014

Wendy Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor, said Monday that a controversial TV ad criticizing Republican opponent Greg Abbott is about highlighting how Abbott has declined the justice he received to those in similar circumstances.

“This ad is about one thing and one thing only — it is about Greg Abbott’s hypocrisy,"Davis said during a news conference at a Fort Worth campaign field office. “Greg Abbott has shown a history of siding against the [Americans with Disabilities Act], of siding against victims of disabilities and working in a way that demonstrates that he is not listening to them." 

While she was asked several questions about the ad at the news conference, Davis did not elaborate on the ad or the controversy surrounding it. Asked how disability rights organizations might comment on the ad, Davis said she is "very proud to be supported by .... people across the state, able-bodied and disabled."

Released Friday, Davis’ ad opens with a shot of an empty wheelchair and says that after Abbott won a multimillion-dollar settlement in 1984 when a tree fell on him, he used his power as a judge and then as attorney general to oppose Texans with disabilities. The ad stirred up controversy, with The Washington Post calling it the “one of the nastiest campaign ads you’ll ever see” and Mother Jones’ engagement editor saying it is “offensive and nasty.” The Abbott campaign referred to the ad as a “historic low.”

Surrounded at Monday’s news conference by several Texans with disabilities, Davis said Abbott had not fought for Texans with disabilities, and she repeated attacks she has made against Abbott throughout the gubernatorial campaign. She referred to the case over the state’s public school finance system, the minimum wage debate, and the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas scandal.  

“This is about more than Wendy Davis or Greg Abbott; this is about a choice between two starkly different paths for our state," Davis said. 

Abbott has weighed in on the ad himself, telling the San Antonio Express-News last week: “It's her choice if she wants to attack a guy in a wheelchair. I don't think it's going to sell too well.”

The Abbott campaign released a web ad on Monday morning in response to Davis’ ad, highlighting negative commentary from pundits and news outlets, including a quote from Time that said: “Wendy Davis Wins the Prize for Most Ill-Advised Political Ad of 2014.”

Davis noted Monday that she was the only candidate for governor who attended the Disabilities Issues Forum in Austin. Abbott, who was invited, did not attend but filled out a policy questionnaire.

Watch the ad

The Texas Tribune provided this story.