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Anti-Trump Republicans attack Gov. Greg Abbott over COVID death toll in national TV ad


The anti-Trump Republican group that spent more than $80 million in 2020 helping to knock the former president out of the White House is now turning its fire on Gov. Greg Abbott.

The Lincoln Project announced on Friday it will air an ad during the Texas Longhorns versus Rice Owls football game to highlight how many people have died in the state, blaming Abbott’s handling of the response to the disease.

“We’re reminding Texans—and all Americans—that there are real and deadly consequences to playing politics with public health,” said Lincoln Project co-founder Reed Galen. “Gov. Greg Abbott has failed Texas to the tune of 60,000 dead neighbors, friends, and family. Instead of recognizing his failure and working with public health officials to protect Texans, Abbott digs in further; ratcheting up his radical, anti-science, anti-vax approach to the pandemic. Texas cannot afford, or survive, the reign of this extremist governor.”

The ad comes as the death toll for COVID in Texas has been on a sharp incline. Since the beginning of this month, the state has announced 4,025 previously unreported deaths from the virus.

Abbott’s response to the current surge has relied on what he calls personal responsibility and less on the government mandates and mask requirements he used during earlier surges. While that has appealed to many Texas Republicans, it has brought criticism from city and county leaders in places like Houston where hospitals are strained.

“Every Texan has a right to choose for themselves and their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses or get vaccinated,” Abbott’s spokeswoman, Renae Eze, said in a recent response to questions about his approach.

Abbott has requested hospitals postpone non-emergency surgeries and has opened antibody treatment centers to help relieve hospitals, but still more than 12,000 people are hospitalized with lab-confirmed COVID-19. Some regions including Waco, Corpus Christi and Beaumont have run out of intensive care beds.

In the 1-minute ad, the Lincoln Project has almost no audio, but flashes the number of deaths in Texas on the screen and says the materials used for caskets to bury the dead amount to enough for an 85-mile-long wooden wall.

“If Gov. Abbott wants to build a new wall, tell him to stop building this one,” the ads states.

The ad hits just after President Joe Biden took direct aim at Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on social media over their handling of the virus.

“Republican governors in states like Texas and Florida are doing everything they can to undermine the public health requirements that keep people safe,” Biden said on Twitter. “They’re playing politics with the lives of their citizens, especially children. I refuse to give in to it.”

jeremy.wallace@chron.com



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