Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has spent his gubernatorial campaign avoiding other people’s scandals. Emphasizing policy and refusing to make Wendy Davis’s false life story the center of the race, it was little surprise that Abbott chose not to meet with scandal-plagued RGA Chairman Chris Christie when he visited Texas yesterday.
Christie has continued attempting to fulfill his duties as the chair of the Republican Governor’s Association through the many scandals bearing down on him, from the George Washington Bridge lane closings to allegations of misappropriation of Hurricane Sandy funds, to the allegation that he browbeat Olympic legend Carl Lewis out of a state senate race. The scandals have wreaked havoc on his poll numbers, and the public distaste is palpable as Christie contended with booing crowds through what should have been a triumphant weekend hosting the Super Bowl. Throughout it all, Christie supporters have argued that he should remain at the head of the Republican Governors Association as long as he can keep bringing in the money for gubernatorial candidates nationwide.
His trip to Texas this week strongly challenged the notion that BridgeGate and its offshoots have not put a damper on Christie’s powers of fundraising and persuasion. Christie visited Dallas and Fort Worth yesterday–the latter home to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis–to raise money for the group and, by proxy, support Greg Abbott. But Abbott wanted nothing to with the New Jersey governor and was quick to announce that he would not meet with Christie at any of the RGA’s private events. Current Governor Rick Perry, who has no elections to worry about, made the same decision. Abbott’s team stated that he had already planned an event focused on immigration policy in Houston that day, and it would be inexpedient to cancel to see Christie.
With Democrats in the state reeling as their candidate’s campaign spirals out of control, they immediately pounced on Christie visiting the state–and as such made it clear why Abbott’s refusal to meet with Christie was a wise choice. According to the Dallas Morning News, the paper that broke the Wendy Davis false biography story, state Democrats immediately took to the press to smear Abbott with Christie’s indiscretions. Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa held a press conference to attack Christie’s “culture of intimidation and retribution” and in the process claim that the New Jersey scandal “is in a lot of respects a mirror image of what you see here in Texas with Rick Perry and Greg Abbott.” Hinojosa also attacked Abbott for not being “willing to condemn [Christie],” despite his decision not to meet with him.
Democrats trying to pin scandals on Abbott that have nothing to do with him is not new. Davis herself repeatedly alleged that Abbott was behind the Dallas Morning News story that revealed she was never a “single teen mom” and did not pay for her own education, despite the reporter that broke that story being a well-known liberal commentator. Abbott’s response to being repeatedly attacked by Davis for a story he had nothing to do with has been to continue speaking about policy and, when approached with questions about Davis, insist on speaking of his own campaign platform and issues that voters care about.
His attitude towards the Christie circus rolling into town has been very similar–to go to Houston and speak about immigration as he had always planned and let Christie do what he has to do elsewhere. Abbott set out to prove that voters want to hear about issues, not distractions, and that he isn’t very easily distracted by shiny objects on either side of the political spectrum. The approach has garnered him three times the funds as Davis in the past month and a significant lead in the polls.