ATLANTA – “For full disclosure,” Governor Greg Abbott of Texas jokes at the beginning of our one-on-one interview at the Red State Gathering, “I’ve retweeted Hot Air a couple of times.” Abbott and I met in a quiet and empty ballroom immediately after his well-received speech to the RSG crowd this afternoon to discuss the event itself and the number of stories at which Texas finds itself in the spotlight. We started off with the Planned Parenthood videos, some of which involve Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, which operates in Texas. Abbott says that he’s not surprised to see PPGC under scrutiny, because he successfully proved that they had conducted Medicaid fraud while Abbott served as the state’s Attorney General:
After the videos emerged involving PPGC, they claimed that the videos showed no wrongdoing and they fully comply with the law. That refrain sounded very familiar to Abbott. “Nothing to see here, move along,” Abbott recalled their reaction to the initial claims of Medicaid fraud. He also points out that the Obama administration has picked up the same line. “Most disturbingly, [it’s] the same attitude we see from the White House and the spokesman for the White House,” Abbott points out. “There’s a point in time where nothing shocks you coming from the White House anymore. I can’t tell if I’m watching the White House or watching MSNBC.”
Abbott said that Texas had already defunded Planned Parenthood in the state even before these videos emerged. Texas has now launched a criminal probe of PPGC, “which could prove a fatal blow for Planned Parenthood in Texas.”
In the rest of the interview, the governor discussed the recent setback to Texas’ voter-ID law in the Fifth Circuit. The reversal was on narrow grounds, Abbott notes, mostly over the mechanics of making state ID more accessible to rural voters. Texas plans to appeal the ruling but also will have a legislative agenda to cover the objections raised by the court, if needed. We also discussed immigration at some length, and the recent remarks of the Republican candidates in the debate. Abbott said that the discussion of the issue has been encouraging, but it needs to be more serious, and with some appreciation for what border states like Texas are enduring because of a lack of federal action.