Gov. Greg Abbott made national headlines this week when he tried to dismiss a reporter's question about Texas' new abortion ban making no exception for rape and incest by saying the state will "elminate all rapists from the streets."
Commentators and Democratic politicians ripped Abbott for avoiding the question, showing insensitivity to sexual assault victims and showing that he doesn't understand the first goddamn thing about rape.
Reporter: Why force a rape or incest victim to carry a pregnancy to term?— The Recount (@therecount) September 7, 2021
Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX): "It doesn't require that at all, because obviously it provides at least 6 weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion." pic.twitter.com/Mbx5JVHG1D
But many Texans recognize that Abbott's ghoulish statement wasn't a one-time gaffe. The guy's political career has been full of similarly outrageous claims, often based on conspiracy theories, debunked lies and bigotry meant to pander to the state's far-right base.
Here are 10 statements Abbott has made since his days at Texas Attorney General that rival the callousness of his wrongheaded rape comment.
1. Oops, did I say that? In 2019, the day before a white-supremacist shooter at an El Paso Walmart carried out the deadliest attack on U.S. Latinos in recent memory, Abbott’s gubernatorial campaign sent out a fundraising letter urging fellow Republicans to “DEFEND TEXAS NOW” from immigrants and “take matters into our own hands.” Although Abbott later said — in Nixonesque fashion — that "mistakes were made" with the mailer, the gov has since doubled down on rhetoric likening border crossings to an "invasion."
2. Democratic nuclear winter. In 2013, when North Korea announced Austin was one of its potential targets for a nuclear strike, then-attorney general Abbott said in a speech that Democrats posed an even greater existential threat to the state than an ICMB from the rogue nation. “The threat that we’re getting is the threat from the Obama administration and his political machine,” Abbott said.
3. Burning up the 'Pants on Fire' charts. During 2016, his second year as governor, Abbott had the dubious distinction of landing at No. 8 among that year’s most-clicked Texas Truth-O-Meter fact checks from the organization Politifact. His statement that "voter fraud is rampant" in Texas — a charge utterly without merit then and now — earned him a "Pants on Fire" rating, reserved for "incorrect and ridiculous" claims. The governor has since repeated that allegation as he championed Texas' new voter restriction law, which has widely been decried by civil rights groups.
4. Not the way to win over South Texas voters. During his stint as Texas AG, Abbott in 2014 rationalized a call for more law enforcement along the border by suggesting that South Texas communities were rife with "third-world" corruption. “The creeping corruption resembles third-world country practices that erode the social fabric of our communities and destroy Texans’ trust and confidence in government,” he said, drawing angry pushback from border lawmakers.
5. I'll take that sando with a side of homophobia, please. Hours after Chick-fil-A announced in 2019 that it would stop funding a pair of Christian groups criticized for being anti-LGBTQ, the governor tweeted a link to a news report on the decision and added, "I'm headed to Bill Miller's tonight," suggesting he'd prefer not to spend his cash at the chicken chain if it won't fund groups trafficking in bigotry.
6. Red meat for the base. This spring, Abbott shared a widely debunked claim from Fox News pundit John Roberts that the Biden White House's climate plan includes capping Americans' consumption of red meat at four pounds annually. “Not gonna happen in Texas!” the governor proclaimed in his tweet, which included a Fox graphic displaying the erroneous claims. More like, "Not gonna happen in Texas ... because it's utter bullshit!"
7. Health insurance? Who actually wants health insurance? Keeping with the theme of asinine voter fraud claims, Abbott without proof told attendees of the 2013 Texas Tribune Festival that then-Minnesota Sen. Al Franken would never have been elected without voter fraud and that the Affordable Care Act could only have passed with Franken's vote. “Without voter fraud, Obamacare would not exist,” said Abbott, then on his first run for Texas governor.
8. 'Carnage' guisada. Amid Abbott's overheated rhetoric about this summer's surge in Latin American asylum seekers, he claimed “carnage" is resulting from "people who are coming across the border." Noting that “carnage” is a word that "by all definitions denotes violent killings," Politifact pointed out that while migrants had engaged in property crimes such as fence cutting, violent crime along the U.S.-Mexico border is steady compared to last year. It rated the claim as "false."
9. Polishing the conspiracy crowd's Jade Helm. For many political observers, the big indication that Abbott would go to any lengths to pander to the fringes of the GOP base came in summer 2015. That's when conspiracy theories percolated up from Alex Jones and AM talk radio that a U.S. military training exercise called Jade Helm was a covert effort to institute martial law. Abbott seized on the moment, dispatching the Texas State Guard to monitor the operation, and claiming in a tweet that he'd done so to "safeguard Texans' constitutional rights, private property & civil liberties." After it was all said and done, former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden revealed that the hysteria around the exercise was fanned by Russian bots.
10. Spoken like someone who's never eaten at Salt Lick. In case anyone needs additional rhetorical evidence that Abbott is out of touch with mainstream Texans, he declared in 2015 that "the most important thing about barbecue is sauce." If you're a fan of Lone Star State 'que, you recognize that statement as sacrilege, no matter which side of the aisle you're on.
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