Attorney General Greg Abbott voted with his family Thursday, then confidently predicted he would reach his goal of a strong finish in heavily Hispanic South Texas. The Republican candidate for governor said he was buoyed by the long lines at the Randall’s grocery store in south Austin, where he cast a vote alongside his wife, Cecilia, and his teenage daughter, Audrey.
“I feel good,” Abbott said. “I feel good about the long line that we were in. Voter turnout seems to be up today, but I’m going to be campaigning today through Election Day because I want to go earn everybody’s vote.”
Abbott has run ads in Spanish and campaigned heavily in the Rio Grande Valley, setting a goal of winning Cameron County and breaking 45 percent in Hidalgo County, both Democratic strongholds in predominately Latino South Texas.
Abbott said he had been to the region “16 or 17 times” during the campaign.
“We’ve devoted a lot of resources down there, a lot of time down there,” Abbott told reporters. “We have more people on the ground in the Rio Grande Valley than Rick Perry had in the entire state of Texas.”
Noting that his wife would become the first Hispanic first lady of Texas if he's elected, Abbott said he gets “great cheers” when he travels to the area and said his campaign has been “reaching out and connecting with” the fastest-growing segment of the Texas population.
A Texas Lyceum Poll conducted in September showed Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, with a clear lead among Hispanics in the governor’s race. But the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll showed it was a statistical dead heat among Latinos.
Davis spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña called Abbott's predictions about the Latino vote “ludicrous,” saying he had compared the region to the “third world” and campaigned alongside GOP lieutenant governor candidate Dan Patrick, whose harsh statements about the border area and illegal immigration have drawn criticism from Hispanic leaders.
During his short exchange with reporters, the attorney general largely sidestepped a question about his views on abortion rights.
For years, Abbott and his aides have said Abbott opposes abortion in all cases except when the life of the mother at stake.
"I believe deeply in the sanctity of life, including the life of the mother,” Abbott said in 2002. “Whenever a mother’s life or health is threatened or endangered, measures should be taken to protect the mother. Regarding instances of rape and incest, which constitute less than 1 percent of all abortions and are admittedly very difficult situations, I further believe life must be preserved."
Last year, Abbott said that he was “not a supporter of Roe v. Wade,” the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
Thursday, though, Abbott didn’t specify whether he supports a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy — for any reason — up to the moment the state’s newly passed 20-week ban kicks in.
“I’m pro-life, I’m Catholic and I, as governor, will promote a state that supports a culture of life,” Abbott said. “But I also understand that we live in a nation of laws and the state of Texas has to operate within the laws that we have here.”
Acuña, the Davis spokeswoman, said Abbott was trying to appear more moderate on abortion rights than he really is.
“It’s no secret that he opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest,” Acuña said. “He knows that Texans are horrified with his position. He is trying to deceive Texans about his opposition to abortion even in cases of rape or incest because he knows that is an extremely unpopular position.”