- Instagram / @govabbott
- Gov. Greg Abbott is now in the sights of the Lincoln Project, a group of veteran GOP strategists who spent big to help make Donald Trump a one-term president.
The group of current and former GOP political strategists has purchased a minute-long TV spot during Saturday’s football game between the University of Texas and Rice University to blast the governor's handling of the COVID-19 crisis. Abbott, a Republican, happens to be a UT alum.
The Lincoln Project spent big during the 2020 election cycle to prevent the reelection of President Donald Trump. While political observers have questioned the effectiveness of its work, the group is now gunning for Republican governors including Abbott and Florida's Ron DeSantis, whom it sees as Trump's children.
The new anti-Abbott TV spot displays footage of desolate Lone Star State scrubland and states in captions that enough Texans died from COVID-19 to "fill a cemetery that would stretch from Austin to San Antonio." The lumber from the caskets of those 60,475 dead Texans would build an 85-mile-long wall, the captions continue.
“If Gov. Abbott wants to build a new wall, tell him to stop building this one,” the ad states in a swipe at the governor's pledge to finish Trump's border wall while tying municipalities' hands from issuing their own rules to contain the pandemic.
The Lincoln Project's Texas and Florida ad buys are an attempt to "raise the political friction" for politicians such as Abbott who have moved hard-right to pander to Trump's base, said veteran political strategist Rick Wilson, one of the group's co-founders.
"We did a decent job defeating Trump, but we didn't defeat Trumpism, and we have a lot of regrets about that," Wilson told the Current, adding that he hopes the group can help peel off enough moderate Republicans from Abbott to give a Democrat a fighting chance in 2022.
Wilson acknowledged that Abbott has amassed an impressive reelection war chest and that no Democratic challenger has so far emerged. Still, he said Abbott's backing of Texas' near-total abortion ban and new voting restrictions put him in an unenviable spot as he tries to appeal to mainstream voters.
"Greg Abbott wasn't always the Greg Abbott he's playing right now," Wilson said. "He wasn't always this clownish, over-the-top, Trumpier-than-Trump kind of character."
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