The Brief: Abbott Pushes Back on "Third World" Criticism

Texas attorney general and candidate for governor of Texas Greg Abbott during a campaign stop in San Marcos, Texas on October 12th, 2013.
Texas attorney general and candidate for governor of Texas Greg Abbott during a campaign stop in San Marcos, Texas on October 12th, 2013.

The Big Conversation

On paper and in person, GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott pushed back on Monday against critics of his use of the term "third world" to describe corruption in Texas.

"My comments about 'corruption resembling third-world country practices' are as true today as when I said them last week. My goal is to make them untrue tomorrow. Those comments were not directed at the Rio Grande Valley — they apply wherever corruption is found," Abbott wrote in a commentary published by The (McAllen) Monitor. "It does not matter where public corruption occurs in Texas; it must be stopped. Texans deserve better, no matter their ZIP code. The Monitor was misguided to suggest that my legitimate concerns about corruption stem from being a 'white conservative' or from 'xenophobia.'"

Abbott was referring to a Feb. 7 editorial by The Monitor calling on him to apologize for his choice of words. His Democratic opponent Wendy Davis joined in the call for an apology in a letter to the editor on Sunday.

"Public corruption does mimic third-world practices, and we will not tolerate those types of practices," Abbott said during a Monday appearance in El Paso, according to a report in the El Paso Times. "I will not adopt a head-in-the-sand approach to dealing with public corruption."

The Day Ahead

•    Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is in Texarkana to continue the rollout of his "Securing Texans" plan.

Today in the Trib

News App: Higher Ed Outcomes Explorer: "Each year, some 300,000 students begin eighth grade in a Texas public school. Use this app to track the educational milestones of every student who started eighth grade in a Texas public school between 1996 and 2001, broken down by region and county."

Most Eighth-Graders Fail to Get Degree Within a Decade: "Among young Texans who started eighth grade in 2001, less than one-fifth earned a higher education credential within six years of their high school graduation, according to data in the Tribune's new Higher Ed Outcomes Explorer."

Seven Candidates Vie for Chance to Reshape Texas Criminal Court: "At least three members of Texas' highest criminal court will be replaced in the next year, and observers say the unusually high turnover could have a significant effect on the court's decisions."

Stockman's Claims About Record Draw Questions: "In his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman has made statements about his own record that appear to conflict with public records and his own past statements."

Must-Read

University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa says resignation unrelated to political strife, Austin American-Statesman

Lawmakers express concern about UT System leadership, Houston Chronicle

In Arkansas, ‘Private Option’ Medicaid Plan Could Be Derailed, The New York Times

White enrollment inches up in HISD, Houston Chronicle

Ted Cruz, stoking 2016 talk, plans March trip to Iowa, The Washington Post

Sen. Cruz takes on the 'regulatory state' with sweeping energy bill, The Hill

Susan Combs looms large in Republican race for comptroller, Austin American-Statesman

Quote to Note

“If you are a Birkenstock-wearing, tree-hugging Greenpeace activist, you should love the Keystone pipeline.”

— U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, arguing that environmentalists should support approval of the pipeline as better for the environment than the alternatives

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Sid Miller, Candidate for Ag Commissioner at the Austin Club, 2/13

•    Reps. Joe Deshotel, Allan Ritter and James White at Lamar University in Beaumont, 2/19

•    Texas Tribune Festival On the Road at the University of Texas El Paso for a daylong symposium on demographic change, 2/27

•    Live Post-Primary Election TribCast at the Austin Club, 3/5

•    A Conversation With Sen. Charles Schwertner and Reps. John Raney and Kyle Kacal at Texas A&M University in College Station, 3/27

•    A Conversation with U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway at Midland College in Midland, 5/13

•    Save the date for the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival: 9/19-9/21

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