While the wheels of the Wendy Davis campaign continue to spin in place, her likely Republican opponent, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, unveiled his new anti-crime program targeting sexual predators, child pornographers, and those who engage in human trafficking.
The “Securing Texans” event – set at the headquarters of New Friends, New Life, a group that helps the victims of abuse and sex trafficking build new lives – focused on the criminal issues that threaten the most vulnerable in society: children, the victims of domestic abuse, and those forced into sex slavery.
Abbott noted that, during his tenure as Attorney General, he had “quadrupled the [number] of peace officers… I have taken horrific child pornographers off the streets of Texas.” Crimes by sex offenders in particular “stiffen my spine,” he noted, and promised to ensure a more fail-proof sex offender registry and that his administration would take a harder line on keeping repeat offenders behind bars.
Abbott did not only discuss the criminals, however. His two-fold plan also included new programs to help the victims of sexual predators and human traffickers. “Until we end this scourge,” he declared, “we must do all we can to help the youngest victims.” He also noted that a recurring issue was how many sex offenders go free after serving an insufficient sentence and do not register with their new communities. “Over half of the ten most wanted” sex offenders, he noted, are missing because they failed to register as sex offenders.
The press conference tackled a number of very personal and dangerous issues, from prosecuting those who engage in posting “revenge porn” online to keeping borders secure from Mexican drug cartels. To the latter point, Abbott noted that illegal immigration is a key problem in the state, and that he proposed an “e-verify” system adopted by the state to “ensure state paychecks written with your tax dollars go only to those eligible to work in the United States.”
Given the variety of programs proposed, the questions Abbott fielded had much to do with how to implement them. Abbott promised that the new programs would not come out of new tax funding. “The Abbott administration will have no tax increases whatsoever,” Abbott insisted.
Abbott also answered a question about the fledgling Davis campaign and its allegation that Abbott’s campaign had planted the story that revealed much of Davis’s life story to be embellished or outright false. Abbott denied that he had anything to do with it. “You know Wayne [Slater, the Dallas Morning News reporter who broke the story], you know what Wayne said… he did this on his own without any contact with my office.” Slater, a longtime reporter for the publication, holds well known liberal views and is a frequent guest on MSNBC.
Abbott concluded that he had no interest in further talking about Davis’s life. “It’s time to move beyond all this,” he asserted, noting that rather than discuss his opposition, he would rather spend his time “focusing on the issues that matter to most Texans.”
While the Davis campaign continues to stumble and has yet to campaign strongly on any particular policy issue, Abbott faces an uphill battle with name recognition: the more Wendy Davis gets her name in the news – even negatively – the more voters will recognize her on the ballot. Abbott appears fully engaged with this challenge, and in his speech today demonstrated his strategy to win Texans over will be to talk about what he will do as governor, and not, like his opponent, what he may or may not have done as a youth.
Abbott’s press conference was broadcast live via the Texas Tribune. Watch it below: