June 28th, 2013
07:15 PM ET
10 years ago

Wendy Davis: Perry has ‘demeaned’ the office he holds

(CNN) – Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, who rose to national fame this week after her 13-hour filibuster in the state legislature, said she was not angry with the deeply personal criticism leveled against her by Republican Gov. Rick Perry, but said his comments were “symptomatic” of his perspective on women’s issues.

“I didn’t have an angry response to it on behalf of myself,” she said Friday on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.” “I think it just demonstrated the typical attitude that Governor Perry has expressed toward the issue. He’s demeaned the high office that he holds by saying things like that.”

Speaking at a national "Right to Life" conference in Dallas, Perry took aim at Davis' own background, claiming she had learned the wrong lessons from being born to a single mother and having her first daughter as a teenager.

"The fact is, who are we to say that children born into the worst of circumstances can't grow to live successful lives?" Perry said, noting Davis had gone on to graduate from college and Harvard Law.

"It's just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example, that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters," the governor said.

The state lawmaker, who represents a district in the Fort Worth area, became a hero to abortion rights supporters this week after staging a filibuster of proposed legislation that would place new restrictions on abortions in Texas. The law would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and place new regulations on abortion providers that would limit the number clinics available.

The measure, declared dead after Davis' marathon filibuster, will be reconsidered during a special session of the state legislature convened by Perry next week.

Davis, a Democrat, acknowledged the sharp public split over the idea of banning abortions after 20 weeks.

“Let's face it. No one likes the idea of an abortion that's that late. But sometimes, women find out unfortunately later in their pregnancies that they're facing some very serious issues, either for their own health or because there are health issues for her pregnancy.”

She added the larger issue was the “sanctity of personal decision making” and “keeping big government out of” that process.

Further explaining Perry's comments, his office said the governor was "praising Sen. Davis for her success despite coming from difficult circumstances, and that should be an inspiration to others."

As Davis' 13-hour filibuster – and the response from Perry - continues to galvanize abortion rights supporters, left-leaning groups are rallying to provide the Democratic state senator support for her future political endeavors.

MoveOn.org, the liberal advocacy organization, said it had garnered pledges of more than $240,000 from 6,500 different members for Davis' next campaign. At this point, the money has only been pledged, not donated, but the group said the outpouring of support was reflective of its members standing in solidarity with Davis' right for reproductive rights.

Another group, EMILY's List, said Davis has long been on their radar as a potential candidate for higher office. They supported her in 2008, and have seen a surge in enthusiasm from their members following Davis' filibuster this week.

"We've been talking to her for years about running for higher office," EMILY's List communications director Jess McIntosh said. "We've known she was a rock star for a long time – thrilled the country does now too!"

EMILY's List is a national organization dedicated to electing women who support abortion rights to office.

- CNN's Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Filed under: Abortion • Rick Perry • Texas • The Situation Room
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Only in Texas can an imbecile like Rick Perry hold high office!

    June 28, 2013 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  2. Donkey Party

    With all due respect, Senator Davis, Rick Perry demeaned the office of Governor a long time ago.

    June 28, 2013 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  3. Wendy Rocks

    Wendy & Hillary in 2016! Sounds good to me! Sure beats Mr. and Mrs Maverick of the GOP!

    June 28, 2013 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  4. Randy, San Francisco

    Sen Wendy Davis should run for governor of Texas and bring back credibility and dignity to the office.

    June 28, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  5. Flagship, NC

    Yes! She needs to aim for a higher office. The Dems have a diamond in the rough!
    She has no limits to what she could go for. I hope she does go for it.
    Hillary better bring her to some position in 2016.

    June 28, 2013 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  6. Michel

    Does she know 'women's services' doesn't have to include killing babies? People in favor of aborting children seem to have a problem sorting it out.

    June 28, 2013 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  7. Kat

    I don't understand why politics goes straight for "the ugly" rather than debating the issue – which is not Wendy Davis' background and her family. The issue is abortion.... which in my opinion is also a personal decision. Abortion has been around since the beginning of the human species but we continue to debate it and bring it out front. This country is deeply divided and we need to focus on fixing it, not increasing the divide.

    June 28, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  8. Woman In California

    Senator Davis would be better off to just ignore this murderous governor. She's already proved her point.

    June 28, 2013 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  9. Michael Benjamin

    Perry has just created his own worst nightmare. Too funny

    June 29, 2013 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  10. California

    How ironic so has Obama.

    June 29, 2013 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  11. Thomas

    Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis could be the next governor of Texas .

    The Bush / Perry era has gone with the wind !

    June 29, 2013 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  12. Getoverit

    But you Liberals assured me that only Republicans filibuster.

    June 29, 2013 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  13. ThinkAgain

    Parry demeans the human race every time he opens his mouth.

    June 29, 2013 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  14. MaryM

    Thank you Wendy. Remember folks, If men could get pregnant, there would be an abortion clinic on every corner of the U.S.

    June 29, 2013 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  15. Marie MD

    I agree with Ms. Davis but I want to add that Texans, by voting for this oops man, demeaned their voting rights how many times, three?

    June 29, 2013 04:01 am at 4:01 am |
  16. KC

    Perry is a traitor for talking about succession from the US. He should resign his office and retire in shame.

    June 29, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  17. HenryMiller

    Perry is a jerk and an embarrassment to the GOP. It's the presence of people like him that drove me away from the Republican Party.

    June 29, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  18. Dennis Freeman

    There are 3 things I would say about the Governor. He is out of touch, he has little sensitivity to others and....oops I forgot the 3rd.

    June 29, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |