Wendy Davis is not backing down from her controversial wheelchair ad. Not even a little.
Flanked by two people in wheelchairs and one with cerebral palsy, Davis on Monday doubled down on her strategy at one of the oddest press conferences of the cycle. Davis basically repeated the contents of the ad (somewhat robotically at times), painting state Attorney General Greg Abbott (R), who is in a wheelchair, as someone who is on the wrong side of the American with Disabilities Act and works against the disabled community.
"This ad is about one thing and one thing only: it’s about hypocrisy," Davis said, adding that Abbott sued after he was paralyzed when a tree fell on him while running. "Greg Abbott has shown time and time again that he has worked to deny that same justice to others." Davis added that Abbott, who leads her in fundraising and in the polls by about 10 points, lacks leadership and empathy. “It’s about building upon our own experiences and using them to champion the causes of others and seeing the young man with cerebral palsy as your son," Davis said.
Her aides insist that Abbott's disability is fair game because he has raised the issue of his disability in other ads. "A guy in a wheelchair can move faster than traffic on some roads in Texas," he says in one ad making the case for fixing Texas's traffic problems.
They also have suggested that the ad, which was focus grouped, actually moves numbers and gives Davis an edge, though it's far too early to see this born out in polls. The ad only came out Friday.
It's supposed to be shocking, they said. It's supposed to get attention. (It's wracked up 375,000 You Tube so far.)
On those counts, at least, the campaign scored a win, as the ad has gotten lots of attention — though mostly negative. Even with the added context from the Davis camp Monday, the ad (below) doesn't go down easy, and simply seems mean-spirited. Abbott might be a hypocrite but wasn't there another way to make the point?