Abbott, Davis go on offensive over ethics, health care, education in final debate

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Greg Abbott, Republican gubernatorial candidate and attorney general, poses with supporters at a watch party following his debate with Democratic candidate Wendy Davis.

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

DALLAS — During their second and last televised debate Tuesday, Attorney General Greg Abbott accused state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, of profiting from an incentive deal handled by her title company to bring a Cabela’s store to Fort Worth while she was on the Fort Worth City Council.

The gubernatorial candidates attacked each other repeatedly on several issues, including health care, public education and ethics.  

In light of the recent state audit of the Texas Enterprise Fund, which criticized the fund’s lack of oversight, Davis said Abbott was questioning her ethics to divert attention from his own record. 

“I have always acted within the ethical guidelines and have been very careful to do so,” Davis said. “As a public servant, my job has always been to the people that I represent.”

The candidates also discussed abortion during the debate. Davis said she believes it is a woman’s right to decide whether to have the procedure, while Abbott defended his position on abortion in cases of rape and incest and said he wanted to promote a culture of life in Texas.

“It’s incredibly important that whenever we talk to a woman who is a victim of rape or incest, we start with the compassion and support they deserve,” Abbott said. “That is what I have done as attorney general, by providing a record amount of financial support to victims. A woman has five months to make a very difficult [decision].”

Davis said Abbott supports standardized testing for four-year-old students in his pre-K plan. According to Davis, the pressure of high-stakes standardized testing is detrimental to education.

“It’s time for us to decrease these pressures,” Davis said. “Tests are important to determine where strengths and weaknesses are, and they should be used for that purpose — to see where the holes are and where [teachers] can fill them.”

Abbott said he has never supported standardized testing for pre-K students and challenged voters to read his education plan on his website.

“I no more want 4-year-olds to take standardized test than I want a cow to jump over the moon,” Abbott said. “I want to make sure we build a strong education for our children, starting from pre-K going all the way to third grade.”

After Davis indicated otherwise, Abbott said no tax dollars from Texas would supplement the health care of other states. Davis also called for an expansion of Medicaid to bring back tax dollars to Texas. She said she would do so by an executive order if she had to.

“It’s all about bringing our tax dollars to work for us,” Davis said. “I’ve also said that Medicaid expansion included the authority to bring it to the state through executive order. I would prefer to work with my legislature.”

The candidates also addressed the first reported Ebola case in Dallas. Abbott said he believed the proper quarantine threshold for Ebola has been met.

“We want to ensure that Ebola cannot expand any further,” Abbott said. “We need to make sure anyone who has been exposed to this needs to be quarantined. We need to make sure this disease does not spread any further whatsoever.”

Davis said the established quarantine was effective and extra coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas was necessary. She added that the public should remain calm.

“As governor, that coordination would be my primary purpose,” Davis said. “My sympathies go out to the person who has been affected by this disease. [Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins] assured me that medical professionals will be safe and be able to contain this disease.”