Anti-Abbott Texas GOP Leader Backs Trump
Debate No Show Threat as TDP Chief Rips Move
By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor
October 8, 2020
Texas Democrats portrayed President Donald Trump as a cowardly crybaby on Thursday in the midst of a move that the state GOP enthusiastically endorsed after he threatened to back out of the next debate because it's been moved to a virtual setting as a consequence of a White House that's festering with the coronavirus.
Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West said the decision by the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates to stage Trump's second encounter with Democrat Joe Biden was designed to "tip the scale" in a way that puts the president at an unfair disadvantage.
West - the leader of a state party organization for less than four months - branded the shuffling of the debate to a Zoom-like platform as "absurd" and "insidious" without saying why such a move would create an uneven playing field that gives Biden an edge.
"I stand by and support President Trump's decision to not participate in some façade that lends itself to being manipulated," West declared in an email. "The American people deserve to see these two candidates respond, extemporaneously, to inquiries from what we hope to be a non-scripted audience."
But West carries minimal sway within his own party as a former one-term congressional member who's spent substantially more time attacking Republican Governor Greg Abbott for measures that he's taken during the coronavirus crisis to protect from the disease for which Trump tested positive last week along with more than three dozen people who'd been around him.
West is planning to lead a virus restrictions protest at the Governor's Mansion on Saturday with a conservative crew that features Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, State Senator Bob Hall and a cadre of anti-establishment tea party activists
Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa - no fan of Abbott himself for obvious partisan reasons - suggested that the president's threat to drop out of the next debate was the latest verse in the same troubling song.
“Donald Trump is throwing yet another temper tantrum," Hinojosa said in an email today. "He has decided that it isn’t worth the time talking to the American people because he can’t get his way. Trump lost the first debate and he knows he cannot compete with Joe Biden.
While West has been marching in lockstep with Trump and his allies on the hard right, he hasn't seem to be worried that the constant criticism of Abbott could backfire in light of the fact the president has at least pretended to like the Texas governor and showered praise on him for his leadership during the coronavirus crisis.
Hinojosa on the other hand isn't going to pass on the chance to capitalize on a presidency that's appearing to be swallowed in a mouth of madness with no sign of method or rationale.
“He is avoiding accountability like a child who knows they have done something wrong," the TDP boss added. "In Trump’s case, it is much worse. He is responsible for over 200,000 coronavirus deaths, 7.7 million cases, and an abysmal economy that has not recovered from Trump chaos."
West - in contrast - attempted to down play the virus threat the way Trump has done throughout the contagion that has him plunging in the polls in the aftermath of a catastrophic performance at the first debate and subsequent positive test that would have forced any other U.S. citizen or visitor to quarantine for two weeks.
West focused on a silver lining that he's found in the pandemic that's been under way for eight months - contending that 99.96% of the Americans have recovered from coronavirus infections without mentioning more than 800,000 Texans have tested positive for COVID-19 including almost 17,000 who died.
"Any attempt to use President Trump's contracting, and being medically cleared, of COVID-19 as an excuse for doing a presidential "conference call" is insidious," West said.