News Column

Perry Takes a Shot at Davis, She's Not Impressed

June 27, 2013

Anna M. Tinsley

Wendy Davis (photo: Tracy Nanthavongsa, Creative Commons)
Wendy Davis (photo: Tracy Nanthavongsa, Creative Commons)

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday criticized state Sen. Wendy Davis -- the Fort Worth senator who drew national attention this week after conducting a more than 11-hour filibuster that helped kill a controversial abortion bill -- because she didn't learn "from her own example."

Davis, a Democrat, has openly talked about how she, by the age of 19, was a divorced, single mother, working two jobs and raising her child as they lived in a trailer park.

Perry, who also noted that he has temporarily delayed announcing his future political plans because of the special session he set to start Monday, said Davis has done much with her life, including earning a college degree as well as a law degree from Harvard University.

"It's just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example: that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential; that every life is precious," Perry said during a speech at the National Right to Life Convention at the DFW Hyatt Regency hotel.

"She came from difficult circumstances and I know she's proud of where she has found herself in life," Perry said after his speech, speaking to reporters. "I'm proud that she has been able to take advantage of her intellect and her hard work.

"What if her mom had said, 'I just can't do this.'"

Shortly after Perry's speech, Davis -- who twice has successfully filibustered legislative sessions under Perry's watch -- released a statement.

"Rick Perry's statement is without dignity and tarnishes the high office he holds. They are small words that reflect a dark and negative point of view," she said. "Our governor should reflect our Texas values.

"Sadly, Gov. Perry fails that test."

Political plans

Perry on Thursday also made news by saying he will delay making any announcement about whether he will seek another term in office, now that the second special session starts Monday.

Perry -- a past and potentially future Republican presidential candidate -- has said he would announce his future political plans by July 1.

"We've got work to do in Austin," he said Thursday about his political time line, after speaking at the National Right to Life Convention at the DFW Hyatt Regency. "That is not on my radar screen."

The governor has not indicated whether he will seek another term as governor, as Attorney General Greg Abbott prepares to run for the post if Perry steps aside, or begin another presidential bid.

And he didn't say that his decision would wait until lawmakers are completely through with the special session.

But he did note that his announcement "is not my focus for the moment. It's on getting the legislature back in."

Abortion legislation

Perry spoke on Thursday two days after the first special session of the year ended without lawmakers giving final approval to a comprehensive abortion bill -- and one day after he called a second special legislative session to address the comprehensive abortion bill that died as chaos erupted in the waning minutes of the first special session he called.

Perry initially called the first session to address interim redistricting maps for the legislature and Congress, but ultimately added other measures including this top-priority abortion bill. The controversial bill, geared to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, would also require that all procedures take place in a surgical center. Estimates show the measure could lead to the closure of 37 of the state's 42 abortion clinics.

But the abortion bill ran into trouble Tuesday, on the last day of the session, after Davis waged a filibuster.

Chaos erupted in the chamber when senators tried to take a last minute vote on the bill after ending Davis' filibuster -- and observers in the gallery drowned out senators' voices, preventing them from knowing whether they had cast a vote for the measure.

Hours after the special session expired at midnight Tuesday, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst acknowledged that votes cast in the chaotic chamber -- capturing national attention -- came after the midnight deadline and were not valid.

"Over the past few days, the world has seen images of the Texas Capitol, filled with pro-abortion activists screaming, cheering, and drowning out our elected officials," Perry said. "Going forward, we have to match their intensity, but with the grace and dignity of the very cause we champion.

"We need to voice our opinions and stand for what we believe without compromising our values, or our basic goodness," he said. "And just remember: the louder the opposition screams, the more we know we're doing something right."

The other two bills on tap for the special session include funding for transportation and dealing with sentencing guidelines for 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder.

Perry has a lengthy pro-life record, overseeing various abortion restrictions passed in the Texas Legislature during his more than 10-year tenure as governor.

Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610 Twitter: @annatinsley

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Source: Copyright Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TX) 2013


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