The Conversation

Did Wendy Davis' Camp See the Problem with Her Bio Months in Advance?

One of the assumptions many people have made is that Wendy Davis' campaign was caught flatfooted by the Dallas Morning News article questioning some of the details of her life story. But there is some reason to think her camp saw a potential problem months in advance and tried to quietly correct it.

Dave Weigel points out something that many people missed:

Davis's campaign site claims, in a lawyerly way, that "by 19, she was on her way to becoming a single mother, working two jobs just to make ends meet." This hasn't been adjusted since the Slater piece; the language was the same one month ago. In a glowing Today show profile cited by Slater, Maria Shriver said of Davis that "by 19, she was getting divorced and living in a mobile home park."

So in recent biographical statements, Davis added that new language, i.e. "on her way to becoming..." to clarify that she was not in fact a single mom at 19. That happened well before the Dallas Morning News made it an issue. How long ago did they catch it? Well, the revised bio seems to have gone up last November. So at least a few months ago.

That is notably different from earlier statements. Davis' previous online bio flatly claimed "By 19, Wendy was a single mother herself." You can see another page using the same description on her old Wendy Davis for Senate site. And through the miracle of the Internet Archive, we can actually pinpoint (within a few months) when this line first appeared in her biography. This June 26, 2012 snapshot of her website is the first appearance of the claim, one which remained in her bio until last November.

Curiously, back in 2008 Davis' campaign bio did not mention her time as a single mother or her stay in a trailer park at all. By 2009, she had dropped any mention of her life before college. Clearly someone decided in mid-2012 that her life story was an asset.

Of course the age difference between 19 and 21 is really the least of the problems with Davis' story. The real problem is that she offers a rags-to-riches story which leaves out where she came by the riches. Nevertheless, it's interesting that her camp seems to have been aware they had a potential problem on their hands months ago. They even tried to fix it, albeit without alerting anyone Davis had previously misspoken.

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