- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 14, 2014

HOUSTON (AP) - A TV ad from Democrat gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis that focuses GOP opponent Greg Abbott’s use of a wheelchair is an act of desperation and distracts from issues that matter to Texas voters, Abbott said Tuesday.

“In politics, sometimes desperate candidates will do desperate things and take their shots, and if that’s the way she wants to run her campaign, have at it,” Abbott said during an appearance in Houston. “My first thought was once again the focus of her campaign is on attacking me, while the focus of my campaign is on attacking the challenges that Texans face.”

The 30-second Davis television ad that debuted on Friday and continues to run in the state opens with an image of an empty wheelchair. It then rips the state attorney general for collecting millions of dollars from a 1984 lawsuit after a falling tree crushed his spine and accuses him of working to limit the legal rights of other victims.

“It’s filled with falsehoods,” he said. “Different people take different strategies, and if she wants to pick on a guy in a wheelchair, that’s what she can do. I don’t think it’s going to sell real well.”

He said voters were more interested in low taxes, transportation and education.

“I’ll leave it up to voters to decide if that ad was appropriate or not,” Abbott said.

Early voting for the Nov. 4 general election starts next week.

Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, again defended the commercial Tuesday as an attack on Abbott’s record and insisted in an MSNBC interview that it was “absolutely not” a personal attack exploiting his disability.

“This ad really is about one thing and one thing only, and it is the fact that Greg Abbott was on the receiving end of a tragic accident and he was able to receive justice for himself … and since then, in his entire public service career, he has been working to kick that ladder down and deny that same opportunity for justice to other people,” she said.

Abbott responded: “I have shown that a guy in a wheelchair can elevate to the very pinnacle of the state of Texas because in Texas it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what you do.”

Abbott has held statewide office since 1995, first as a Texas Supreme Court Justice. He was elected attorney general in 2002.

Abbott has openly discussed his disability in speeches and campaign ads.

“It is true I had an encounter with a tree here in Harris County,” he said in opening remarks Tuesday to a crowd at a Houston barbecue restaurant. “But I am the only one to live to talk about it.”

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