Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is facing criticism over his decision to campaign with National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent because of the rocker's inflammatory attacks on women and racially charged commentary about President Obama.
After reports emerged that Nugent would be making two February 18 campaign appearances with Abbott, the move was condemned by the Texas Democratic Party, women's group Annie's List, and the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Wendy Davis.
Citing Nugent's recent characterization of Obama as a "mongrel" -- a term that describes a dog of indeterminate breed -- the Texas Democratic Party issued a press release calling on Abbott to cancel the planned appearances:
Austin, TX -- This Tuesday, Attorney General Greg Abbott is set to have joint appearances with right-wing radical Ted Nugent. According to the Texas Eagle Forum, the Attorney General will join Nugent for events in Denton and Wichita Falls.
According to the Dallas Morning News, "Just last month, [Nugent] told Guns.com at the Las Vegas hunting and outdoor trade show that, 'I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America.'" [Dallas Morning News, 2/13/2014]
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa released the following statement:
"Just last month, Ted Nugent called President Barack Obama a 'subhuman mongrel' and 'gangster.' He spews hate against our first African-American President and in return, Attorney General Greg Abbott welcomes him to the campaign trail. Is this how Abbott celebrates Black History Month? Texans deserve better than a statewide office holder and candidate running for governor who welcomes Ted Nugent and his repugnant comments. I can't help but recall the old saying, tell me who your friends are, and I'll tell you who you are."
Annie's List also called for the cancellation of the event, pointing to Nugent's offensive commentary on women. The group's executive director Grace Garcia stated, "Ted Nugent's comments against women are despicable. Much of what he has said is so repulsive I can't even repeat it. It's reprehensible that Greg Abbot is now publicly accepting support from this person":
Today, Annie's List called on Attorney General Greg Abbott to denounce Ted Nugent and cancel all joint appearances scheduled together, including two events on Tuesday. Ted Nugent is well known for his outlandish comments, especially those attacking women.
Annie's List Executive Director Grace Garcia released the following statement:
"Ted Nugent's comments against women are despicable. Much of what he has said is so repulsive I can't even repeat it. It's reprehensible that Greg Abbot is now publicly accepting support from this person.
"Greg Abbott should denounce Ted Nugent who so freely attacks women and cancel the events they have scheduled together. Otherwise, his claims to fight for women will continue to ring hollow.
"Nugent has used terms to describe female political leaders such as 'brain-dead soulless idiot,' 'varmints,' 'fat pigs,' 'dirty whores,' 'worthless bitch' and more that I do not care to repeat. It's hate speech, plain and simple.
"Greg Abbott has claimed he fights for women, but he can't have it both ways. It's a lie to make that claim and then turn around and accept the support of someone so outspokenly anti-woman like Ted Nugent."
Davis campaign spokesperson Bo Delp told The Houston Chronicle, "Ted Nugent disrespects a large number of Texans. It is embarrassing that Greg Abbott thinks it is appropriate to appear with Ted Nugent."
Though the Abbott campaign released a statement distancing Abbott from Nugent's inflammatory remarks, it declined to cancel the events.
Controversy surrounding Nugent's planned campaign stops has been covered by CNN's This Hour, Politico, The Los Angeles Times, and also extensively throughout Texas media. The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, The Austin-American Statesman, San Antonio Express-News, Dallas Observer, Denton Record-Chronicle, and The Texas Tribune all covered controversy surrounding Nugent's association with Abbott. According to a search of the database TV Eyes, the campaign controversy has been discussed on radio stations KRLD (Dallas/Fort Worth) and WOAI (San Antonio) and news stations KDFW (Dallas/Fort Worth), KXXV (Central Texas), KVUE (Austin), KENS (San Antonio), KJTL (Wichita Falls), YNN (Austin), KEYE (Austin), and KFDX (Wichita Falls).
Nugent, who is also a conservative columnist and spokesperson for the Outdoor Channel, has frequently spouted inflammatory rhetoric in recent years, particularly on the topic of race. Among the lowlights over the past year, Nugent termed deceased Florida teenager Trayvon Martin a "dope smoking, racist gangsta wannabe," endorsed the racial profiling of African-Americans, and claimed that African-Americans could fix "the black problem" if they just put their "heart and soul into being honest, law-abiding, [and] delivering excellence at every move in your life."