Texas Attorney General and the state's leading gubernatorial candidate, Greg Abbott, is not backing down from his controversial comment about "Third World" public corruption and what some believe is a perceived unfair focus the Hispanic-majority along the state's border with Mexico.
"Public corruption does mimic Third-World practices, and we will not tolerate those types of practices," Abbott said, according to the El Paso Times.
Speaking this week during campaign stops in the state and in an interview with Fox News, Abbott was unapologetic in his remarks and said that his main focus in regards to border security is his $300 million plan to put an extra 500 state troopers along the Texas-Mexico border.
“I will never back down and put my head in the sand and pretend as though the problem doesn’t exist because I have prosecuted public corruption across the state of Texas, and as governor I will ensure that we eliminate this problem as opposed to some other people who seem to want to put their head in the sand about dealing with these challenges,” Abbott told Fox News.
Abbott has come under attack from Democratic gubernatorial challenger Wendy Davis and from other opposition lawmakers in Texas, who blasted the Republican candidate for what they called a “misusage” of funds.
"Using $300 million to address a federal issue is a gross misusage of funds," said Texas Sen. Jose Rodriguez, according to the El Paso Times. “Meanwhile, our school system is underfunded and we are not doing anything to take care of it."
Rodriguez, along with fellow Texas lawmaker state Rep. Mary Gonzalez, lashed out at Abbott’s focus on security and corruption in the southern part of the state, while ignoring Dallas, Houston and other urban areas.
"When he talks about corruption he points at people of color and equates it to Third World countries,” Gonzalez said. “It really demonstrates how out of touch he is with Texas' border communities.”
Both Rodriguez and Gonzalez represent the border communities around El Paso, an area of the state that straddles Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez and is over 80 percent Latino.
Davis, a Democratic state senator from Fort Worth who faces a steep uphill battle in the gubernatorial race, penned an editorial and a letter to the editor of Texas’ The Monitor newspaper, where she harangued Abbott for his comments.
“I join you in calling for Attorney Gen. Greg Abbott to apologize for his offensive and erroneous comment that problems facing South Texas resemble 'Third-World-country practices that erode the social fabric of our communities and destroys Texans' trust in government,'” she wrote in a letter posted Sunday. “Abbott's comparison of activities in South Texas to those of a 'Third-World' country is untrue, hurts our state, harms economic development in our border communities and won't help the hardworking Texas families who live there.”
In light of the backlash from Davis and other lawmakers, Abbott has so far remained steadfast in his border plans – especially as he holds a solid nine point lead over Davis, according to a Real Clear Politics average.
“She hasn’t announced a single platform that she will do to ensure the safety of Texans whereas I have announced a plan of more than 50 pages of ways in which I am building upon what I have done as the Texas Attorney General of arresting child predators, of going after those who commit sexual assault offenses, going against those who engage in human trafficking,” Abbott told Fox News. “I have an unparalleled record of keeping Texans safe as the Attorney General.”