Despite a Supreme Court ruling this summer freeing Texas and eight other states from seeking federal approval for changes to voting rules, Texas' top attorney tells Newsmax TV the White House continues to push the issue for its own political agenda.
"[U.S. Attorney General Eric] Holder is coming into Texas trying to force Texas under ongoing federal supervision of our election laws. The Obama administration wants to keep Texas under their thumb for our election laws, and I've got to tell you, there's a political reason behind this," said Republican Greg Abbott, the Lone Star State's attorney general, in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
"They know that Texas is trying to impose a voter ID law requiring people to show [photo ID] when they go vote. The Obama administration must be concerned that we're going to shut down the illegal voting in the state of Texas, and they somehow are against that," Abbott says.
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Abbott has announced his candidacy to succeed popular Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry in 2014. Perry said last month he won't seek a fourth full term.
Abbott acknowledged he has sued the White House 28 times since taking office. "The reason ... is because the Obama administration seems insistent on trampling the United States Constitution," he said. "Someone needs to hold them accountable — and I am up to that task."
He said Texas has prevailed in every case that has landed before the U.S. Supreme Court, and he anticipates the same result for the state's voter photo ID law.
Abbott announced his gubernatorial run on July 14, the 29th anniversary of a tree falling on him — an accident that left him partially paralyzed and wheelchair-bound.
"That day is significant because as you mention, it's the anniversary of the accident that put me in a wheelchair. And part of my campaign is based upon the theme of overcoming challenges," Abbott said.
"I've been able to overcome a life-transforming challenge that broke my back. And [I've gone on] to become a [Texas] Supreme Court justice, and now attorney general, and now candidate for governor for the state of Texas."
Texas also faces tough challenges ahead. "It could be economic challenges. It could be family challenges. It could be physical challenges. Whatever the case may be, I symbolize what all Texans can and do and live every single day — and that is face challenges and overcome them, and we will continue to do that as a state, as a people. And I will be representative of Texas accomplishing just that."
With Perry having served as governor for more than 10 years, Abbott said his leadership style would be very different from that of the 2012 presidential candidate.
"I've been able to overcome a challenging disability. It brings the perspective of going to work every day and fighting for all Texans," he said. "Another is that I am married to a Latina, which shows that connection with the Hispanic community. If I'm elected, my wife will be the first Latina in the governor's mansion in the state of Texas' history. And so it shows our ability to reach out to the broader community and be so inclusive in this state."
Abbott dismissed predictions that the Republican state might one day turn blue with the influx of Hispanic voters.
"A lot of those theories about Texas turning blue are based upon the hypothesis that the growing Hispanic population in the state is going to lean Democrat and that's a false premise. And the reason why we see that is because Texas has a long history of being tied together with the Hispanic community."
He said Republicans have already endorsed a number of Hispanic candidates. "The Republicans in Texas have begun electing a lot of Hispanics, and the Democrats view that as very threatening to them and so they're using whatever legal tools they possibly can to try to divide the Republican Party and the Hispanic community in the state of Texas, but I don't think that their political strategy is going to work.
In the absence of a national immigration reform plan, Abbott said Texas has had to deal with the effects of illegal immigration daily.
"Texas is involved with the immigration issue in ways that so many other states are not because we are right on the border and, obviously, we have in this country a completely broken immigration system. The United States Congress must get the job done about correcting our immigration system," he said.
"When you talk about what challenges do we see because we are on the border, we see the constant influx of people coming in across the border. And I need to underscore something for you, and that is it's not just migrant farm workers from Mexico.
"We've got people coming in from countries around the entire world. We have people coming in from terrorist-based nations into the United States through the Texas-Mexico border," according to Abbott. "It is essential that we be able to seal this border to secure our fellow Americans. But at the same time, we're seeing in the state of Texas dramatically escalated cartel activity and cartel-related crime and corruption, and we need to stamp all of that out by doing a better job of securing our border."
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