Plenty of people, like "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski, are "cringing" over Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis' ad that focuses on GOP challenger Greg Abbott and the accident that left him in a wheelchair, but she says she is not pulling the spot down.
The 30-second spot, called "Justice,"
was released on Friday and notes that Abbott received millions of dollars in a lawsuit after he was injured back in 1984, but accuses him of not siding with victims like himself during his time in the state Supreme Court or as the Texas attorney general.
Brzezinski, while discussing the ad Monday morning on the MSNBC program, said that she objects to "everything from the production of it to the looming voice to the accused…yikes, I cringed watching that."
Further, she said that Davis is going against her "brand" by running such an ad.
"This is not her, what her brand is turning out to be," said Brzezinski. "She should be appealing to women and she should be inspiring them and having a positive message."
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Davis, though, says she backs the ad, and that Abbott has tried to block cases that are similar to his own.
"He rightfully had an opportunity to access the justice system when he was at the receiving end of a tragic accident," Davis told CNN affiliate KSAT
in San Antonio over the weekend. "But ever since he's been actively fighting to close that door and deny access to others who have been wronged and who deserve to have their day in court."
And her pollster, Joel Benenson, who also was the pollster for President Barack Obama, joined in to fight back against criticism that the ad went too far against Abbott, who has been in a wheelchair since the 1980s.
"We're confident that this ad is effective and is going to continue to be effective because it's executing basically the same strategy we've had since Day 1," Benenson told The Houston Chronicle
Sunday. "We've always planned to use it in laying out a set of ads that showed him siding with insiders against average Texans, and that's where we are today."
But the ad is already backfiring, say Republican strategists. Abbott's camp put out a video Monday about the mounting complaints on Davis' ad, saying that she is "unfit to be governor."
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Dorian Warren, an associate professor at Columbia University, told "The Morning Joe" show Monday that he believes the ad "is a huge blunder," as Davis, who is losing to Abbott by double digits in state and national polls, is trying to attract voters.
"What Wendy Davis needs is to increase voter turnout," Warren said. "Negative ads depress voter turnout. She needs many new voters to come out, and this will not motivate her voters to come out."
Abbott told The San Antonio Express News
Sunday that the ad is "offensive" and "shows the tenor of the campaign."
"If you look at my ads, I focused on what I'm going to be doing as governor, and my opponent spends all her time in ads attacking me, as I'm attacking the challenges that fellow Texans deal with," Abbott said.
He also expects the strategy to backfire.
"It's her choice if she wants to attack a guy in a wheelchair," said Abbott. "I don't think it's going to sell too well."
Abbott's fellow Texas Republican lawmakers were also angered by the ad, taking to Twitter to voice their outrage.
Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn tweeted
that Davis took "the low road":
Cornyn later posted a statement on his own campaign website
demanding Davis apologize and pull down the ad.
"Everyone knows that politics can be a tough business but sometimes certain things are way over the line and running an attack ad on a serious medical accident suffered by your opponent is one of them," said Cornyn.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted that the ad was "tasteless":
And outgoing Gov. Rick Perry called the ad an attack of "desperation:"
Meanwhile, Republican media strategist Rick Wilson told Breitbart Texas
that the ad "makes even Todd Akin look like a political genius," referring to the Missouri GOP candidate and his controversial comments about "legitimate rape" and pregnancy that cost him his election.
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