Wendy Davis wheelchair ad an historic low

Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is in big trouble. She trails Attorney General Greg Abbot by double digits and has made several unforced errors that have soured the voter on her candidacy.

What's a desperate candidate to do? How about releasing an ad featuring an empty wheelchair? Abbott is partially paralyzed due to a freak accident and calling attention to his handicap crosses a line that few candidates in history have dared to approach.

You stay classy, Wendy. The avalanche of stories and criticism was exactly what she was looking for, of course. Free publicity is free publicity and as the old saying goes, as long as they spell my name right...


"A tree fell on Greg Abbott. He sued and got millions,” a narrator says over the image of a wheelchair. “Since then, he’s spent his career working against other victims.”

Abbott was paralyzed in 1984 when, out jogging during a storm, he was struck by a falling oak tree. He sued the homeowner and eventually won a $10 million settlement. He has used a wheelchair since the accident.

The spot cites three cases Abbott worked on as a state Supreme Court justice or attorney general. In one case, Abbott’s office argued a woman with an amputated leg wasn’t disabled because she had a prosthetic limb. In another, he said a door-to-door sales company wasn’t responsible when one of their employees raped a woman. (The Texas Supreme Court ruled in the woman’s favor.) In the third, he helped a hospital defend themselves against a lawsuit after a doctor botched surgeries.

“Greg Abbott,” the narrator says. “He’s not for you.”

The Abbott campaign responded forcefully.

“It is challenging to find language strong enough to condemn Sen. Davis’ disgusting television ad, which represents a historic low for someone seeking to represent Texans,” said Abbott spokeswoman Amelia Chasse. “Sen. Davis’ ad shows a disturbing lack of judgment from a desperate politician and completely disqualifies her from seeking higher office in Texas.”

Actually, it's an historic low for any campaign at any time. The well known example of FDR is instructive. Not only did the press minimize Roosevelt's infirmity, Republicans tread very lightly during campaigns against him. It wasn't so much a sense of decorum that held Republicans back; it's that they knew they'd get skewered for mentioning it.

The several million dollars in free advertising that Davis will get out of this despicable ad represents the most cynical campaign ploy in quite a while. She should be buried on election day and banished from politics forever.

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