Abortion activist Wendy Davis is best known for filibustering a pro-life bill that would ban late-term abortions in Texas, but now she is trying to present a rags to riches story in an attempt to redefine herself for Texas voters as she campaigns for governor.
Unfortunately, in an attempt to boil down the story to the essential facts for a quick presentation on the campaign trail and in commercials, Davis is “blurring” key facts, as the Dallas Morning News reports.
The way the campaign is presenting it, Davis was a 19 year old single mom (briefly married then divorced) in financial dire straits. But she overcame her circumstances to prove that hard work, persistence, and embracing the life of her daughter didn’t keep her from achieving her dreams. Her life didn’t end. It flourished. She graduated top of her class from both Texas Christian University and from Harvard Law School.
But that’s not entirely accurate, the newspaper reports in a lengthy article today on the embellishments:
While her state Senate filibuster last year captured national attention, it is her biography — a divorced teenage mother living in a trailer who earned her way to Harvard and political achievement — that her team is using to attract voters and boost fundraising.
The basic elements of the narrative are true, but the full story of Davis’ life is more complicated, as often happens when public figures aim to define themselves. In the shorthand version that has developed, some facts have been blurred.
Davis was 21, not 19, when she was divorced. She lived only a few months in the family mobile home while separated from her husband before moving into an apartment with her daughter.
A single mother working two jobs, she met Jeff Davis, a lawyer 13 years older than her, married him and had a second daughter. He paid for her last two years at Texas Christian University and her time at Harvard Law School, and kept their two daughters while she was in Boston. When they divorced in 2005, he was granted parental custody, and the girls stayed with him. Wendy Davis was directed to pay child support.
In an extensive interview last week, Davis acknowledged some chronological errors and incomplete details in what she and her aides have said about her life.
“My language should be tighter,” she said. “I’m learning about using broader, looser language. I need to be more focused on the detail.”
All campaigns seek to cast their candidate in the most positive light and their opponent in less flattering terms. Davis is presenting her story on websites, interviews, speeches and campaign videos. Last week, NBC’s Today show became the latest media outlet to showcase the story of Davis’ difficult early years in a flattering piece.
Using her story to inspire new voters, particularly women, youths and minorities, is a key part of the campaign’s strategy to overcome the state’s heavy Republican bent.
But likely Republican nominee Greg Abbott and his allies are expected to focus on different details to tell voters a competing story. Some will question how much of her success was her own doing, and how bad her circumstances were to start.
Davis defended the accuracy of her overall account as a young single mother who escaped poverty, earned an education and built a successful legal and political career through hard work and determination.
As Davis campaigns to become governor of Texas, she is undertaking a campaign to play down her fierce support of abortion on demand and her infamous filibuster of a bill to stop abortions up to the day of birth in Texas.
Davis’ attempt to jump from abortion activist to Texas governor is failing so far, as a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll has the pro-life state Attorney General leading her so far.The poll finds Greg Abbott leading Davis in the race for governor, 40% to 34%. In a three-way race against Davis and Libertarian Kathie Glass, Abbott’s lead remains at 5 percent, 40-35 percent.
As a result, Davis is continuing her campaign to reform her image as an abortion activist as she attempts to moderate her extreme views enough to placate a Texas electorate that is solidly pro-life. Davis has already downplayed her pro-abortion views and is attempting to focus on other political issues, and attempted to pull a fast one in her campaign for governor by declaring herself “pro-life.”
Yet, during a speech recently, Davis called abortion “sacred ground” and indicated she may run for governor. Later, she indicated she thinks pro-life women “don’t understand” abortion and she showed she has no understanding of the Kermit Gosnell case.
The last Democrat to be elected Texas Governor was Ann Richards in 1990. Since then, the Democratic nominee has lost every gubernatorial election.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is seeking the GOP nomination to replace pro-life Governor Rick Perry, who is not planning to run again next year. Prior to assuming the office of attorney general, Abbott was a justice on the Texas Supreme Court and was appointed by former Texas governor and President George W. Bush.
At age 26, Abbott was struck by a falling oak tree that injured his back as he jogged by. He has used a wheelchair ever since and has become an eloquent pro-life advocate — speaking up for both the disabled and the unborn.
The accident serves as a reminder that regardless of someone’s circumstances, he or she deserves a chance at life, Abbott has said.
“As I laid there motionless on the ground, gripped with pain, as helpless as a child in the womb, I knew my life had changed forever,” he said at the National Right to Life convention in June.. “Some people think it’s easy to write off the lives of the disabled or the different. But every day, God reminds us that all life has value, no matter the form.”
Abbott, a rising Republican Party star, who is pro-life on abortion, is the leading contender with Perry not running. Abbott already has millions in the bank for a statewide bid.