Kicking off the Texas GOP Convention in Dallas on Thursday, Governor Greg Abbott took the stage to somehow endorse Donald Trump without even uttering his name.
In his speech, Abbott spent more time on explaining why Hillary Clinton cannot be elected president than he did on anything else, not even his new book or his sweeping plan to form a convention of states that will amend the U.S. Constitution. After bragging about filing 31 lawsuits against the Obama administration— “a record that will never be matched” — he then began his attack:
“Here’s the deal: I didn’t file those lawsuits just to have Barack Obama’s liberal agenda extended by Hillary Clinton. Hillary will expand Obamacare and amnesty policies, and Hillary wants to take away your guns.” She will also kill energy jobs, unborn babies, and make disastrous foreign policy decisions, Abbott said.
Electing Hillary Clinton, he continued, equates to allowing her to “destroy the Constitution.” And that’s when you could really feel the Trump endorsement coming on: “America does not have the luxury to get this election wrong," he said. “Republicans must unite to prevent Hillary from continuing the Obama agenda. All of us, we need to come to grips with the reality, that the biggest threat to our freedom is a government that ignores the U.S. Constitution.”
Perhaps Abbott did not want to come to grips with the reality that he was, in effect, endorsing the reality-TV billionaire who squashed his longtime pal Ted Cruz in the primaries. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, however, took care of that for him. He suggested that with Donald Trump as President, Trump could “unite the Republican Party” by deciding to put Ted Cruz on the Supreme Court bench. “Are you with me on this? Ted Cruz would be the greatest Supreme Court judge in the history of the country,” Patrick said to loud applause.
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When they weren’t talking about the general election and Hillary Clinton, they laid out their usual policy points, which are bound to feature prominently in this weekend’s GOP convention. Those policy points included banning sanctuary cities, ending what Abbott called “butchering of babies for profit,” beefing up border security (“I don’t know if Mexico’s gonna pay for the wall, or who’s gonna pay for the wall, but we need a wall!” Patrick said) and not allowing men in women’s restrooms. In fact, Abbott said he is working with the governor of North Carolina to fight back against the federal government. "Obama has turned bathrooms into courtrooms," he said.
But when Jared Woodfill — who is running for the Texas GOP chair and who often brags about defeating the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance by making it about bathrooms — took the stage for his own five-minute speech, he seemed unimpressed with anyone else's efforts to block transgender people from using the right bathroom other than his own. He said that, during the HERO fight, his party went "AWOL" and that now the GOP is "conspicuously silent" about the bathroom issue — though it sounds like he was mostly talking to his opponent in the race for Texas GOP chair, incumbent Tom Mechler, who was also in the room.
This week, Woodfill's campaign circulated a mailer that accused Mechler of having a "disgusting homosexual agenda" and standing by silently as Woodfill fought tooth and nail to defeat HERO and keep men out of women's bathrooms, the resounding tagline of his anti-HERO campaign. Woodfill criticized Mechler for not moving the GOP convention out of Dallas, which is apparently a "homosexual friendly location," and for having a single booth featuring the Metroplex Republicans, an LGBTQ-friendly group.
So in any case, it sounds like the Texas GOP Convention is off to a solid start.