Perry, Davis exchange war of words
Posted on June 27, 2013 at 6:25 PM
Updated Thursday, Jun 27 at 9:39 PM
AUSTIN -- The phones haven't stopped ringing at the Texas Capitol office of state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), whose filibuster opposing sweeping new abortion laws before thousands of supporters vaulted her into the national spotlight overnight.
"I think it speaks volumes to how deeply these issues hit us as human beings and hit our value system," Davis said in an interview with KVUE Thursday. "The response has been very organic and really quite remarkable."
Meanwhile Republican leaders are dissecting how legislation supported by the majority in both chambers failed a second time. After falling short of the two-thirds vote necessary for consideration in the Texas Senate during the regular session, a simple majority vote under altered rules during the special session was derailed in the final minutes by the deafening roar of abortion rights supporters in the Senate gallery.
"I'm really mad," a frustrated Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R-Texas) said Thursday in an interview on FOX News Channel program America's Newsroom. "The will of the people of Texas is not going to be thwarted by Obama-style mob tactics. We can't permit that in the State of Texas."
"This is what happens when you don't have leadership," state Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) told media Thursday. "The Senate floor was out of control. The gallery was out of control. There seemed not to be a plan. There seemed not to be a backup plan. There seemed not to be a contingency plan, and that should have never happened."
Announcing his intention to run for lieutenant governor in 2014 under the slogan "authentic conservative leadership," Patrick said the events of the previous weeks cemented his decision to challenge Dewhurst, along with a packed field of high-profile Republican candidates.
"Because of a lack of leadership Tuesday night, not only did we lose that important legislation, but we've also elevated now a rallying point for the other party. It should never have happened," said Patrick. "Under my watch, if I were lieutenant governor that would have never have happened."
After announcing a new 30-day special session set to begin July 1 and include a third shot at the controversial abortion laws, Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) rallied abortion rights opponents Thursday for another round.
"The world has seen images of the Texas Capitol filled with pro-abortion activists, screaming and cheering and drowning out the elected officials," Perry told the National Right to Life Convention in Dallas. "Going forward we have to match their intensity, but do it with grace and civility and the dignity that our cause deserves."
Perry also took personal aim at Davis.
"Even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances," said Perry. "She was the daughter of a single woman. She was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate. It's just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters."
"Rick Perry's statement is without dignity and tarnishes the high office he holds," Davis said in a statement released shortly afterward. "They are small words that reflect a dark and negative point of view. Our governor should reflect our Texas values. Sadly, Gov. Perry fails that test."
"I thought it demeaned the office that he holds, the very high office that he holds," Davis told KVUE Thursday. "It's a huge expense to the taxpayers to conduct a special session, and I'm surprised and disappointed that he's chosen once again to try to ram this bill down the throats of Texans who value their liberty, their private decision making. But here we are."
A full 30-day session is estimated to cost taxpayers more than $1 million, largely to pay for state lawmakers' $150 per diem pay while the Texas Legislature is in session. Starting over makes the prospect of blocking the legislation through another filibuster unlikely, but Davis isn't conceding.
"I don't think anything's ever a foregone conclusion in politics," said Davis, whose viral stand made her the first Texas Democrat in years to gain the national media exposure previously limited to Republicans such as Perry and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). "I feel confident that people are going to stay engaged, and they're going to continue to be here in the Capitol expressing their perspectives on this bill."
"Until the day that Roe v. Wade is nothing more than a shameful footnote in our nation's history books, we will not give up the good fight," Perry likewise told the bill's supporters. "Just remember this, the louder they scream, the more we know we are getting something done."
What's certain, it will be a hot summer ahead.