AUSTIN, Texas — Democrat Wendy Davis held a press event in Fort Worth Monday, after her campaign has been bombarded for days with criticism of her ad attacking Republican Greg Abbott with the image of an empty wheelchair, to double down on her defense of the ad. As Breitbart Texas reported, condemnation of the ad was nearly universal and came from all across the political spectrum.
After several general statements about why she got into politics, Davis engaged in some foot-stomping about “insider politics” in Austin. “I chose to run for Governor because I believe that the old insider network In Austin has taken Texas as far as it can,” she said. Davis continues to accuse Abbott of being part of a “creeping culture of corruption” and list various industries that have donated money to his campaign, using that phrase or “creeping corruption” dozens of times.
Davis then repeated the claims in her ad that have been debunked by a number of sources, including the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Business Journal, Texas Monthly, and legal bloggers. Even Davis’ claims that she was a good steward of taxpayer dollars regarding the incentive money given to Cabela’s was shredded by the Austin American-Statesman over the weekend.
Then Davis was joined on the stage by several dozen Texans who have disabilities, including several in wheelchairs. Reaction online was similar to the negative backlash to her ad, with several commenting that they understood that she was defending her messaging but mostly expressing disbelief and uneasiness with the optics of the scene.
Political consultant Will Franklin tweeted a photo from the press conference and the comment, “So sincerely embarrassed for Wendy Davis’ campaign team right now. Who is calling the shots over there? Just awful.” In a phone interview with Breitbart Texas, Franklin added, “Wendy Davis’ entire campaign is so ridiculous, I’m waiting for Ashton Kutcher to pop out from behind a door and yell ‘punked!’…the whole optics of it are so clunky, this whole saga feels like it’s aprt of a bad political movie written by people that have never participated in politics in their life. It’s so awkward and goofy.” Houston Chronicle blogger Kathleen McKinley tweeted, “Sorry @WendyDavisTexas a photo op with people in wheelchairs doesn’t make your ad against @GregAbbott_TX any less offensive.” Ace of Spades blogger John Ekdahl tweeted a comparison of the Davis campaign to the Titanic disaster.
Good time to remind people that Davis’ campaign logo looks like a sinking ship. pic.twitter.com/9kQgsrg2eB
— John Ekdahl (@JohnEkdahl) October 13, 2014
Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak joined the chorus of critics, telling Breitbart Texas, “Not satisfied to simply smear and attack a paraplegic in the nastiest TV ad in Texas political history, today Wendy Davis chose to selfishly use three more disabled Texans in a desperate attempt to save her disastrous campaign. Tripling down on this terrible ad shows that Wendy Davis has no honor.” [Disclosure: Mackowiak is a Breitbart Texas contributor.]
As Breitbart Texas previously reported, the Davis ad was made by the same ad makers behind the ad that accused 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney of being responsible for a woman’s cancer death, another ad that had its claims debunked and was met with outraged reactions.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.