EL PASO (CBSDFW.COM) – Governor Greg Abbott acknowledged mistakes about a fundraising letter his campaign sent out the day before the deadly El Paso mass shooting while in El Paso on Thursday.
The letter, dated August 2 and first reported by The Texas Signal last week, centered on the number of people crossing into Texas illegally and told supporters “If we’re going to DEFEND Texas, we’ll need to take matters into our own hands.”
It goes onto say, “The national Democrat machine has made no secret of the fact that it hopes to turn Texas blue. If they can do it in California, they can do it in Texas – if we let them.”
“Mistakes were made and a course correction has been made. I emphasized the importance of making sure rhetoric will not be used in a dangerous way,” Governor Abbott.
He made the remarks in response to a reporter’s question at the start of his second roundtable discussion aimed at preventing mass shootings in Texas.
Before the roundtable, the Governor met with Democratic state lawmakers from El Paso to discuss the fundraising letter.
Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Manny Garcia released the following statement on the matter:
“The first step in solving a problem is admitting we have one. In that respect, this Texas Safety Commission meeting is a step in the right direction. However, let’s be clear: Governor Abbott and the Republican Party’s white supremacist rhetoric, like that seen in Abbott’s fundraising mailer the day before the El Paso shooting, continues to be a major part of the problem. Texans expect actions and solutions to curb racism, white supremacy, and gun violence in our state and in our country. Governor Abbott has an apology to make. The eyes of the world are on us.”
Unlike the first roundtable discussion last week at the Texas Capitol, this meeting took place in El Paso, where a man from Allen is accused of shooting and killing 22 people and injuring dozens of others at a Walmart.
Sitting next to First Lady Cecilia Abbott, the Governor called the shooter a racist and someone who made his hatred clear in a 2,000 word manifesto online.
“Time and again, his target was Texas, the Texas culture, the Hispanic community, and blended communities. Some of the victims of this horrific crime are blended communities.”
The Governor met with some of the victims’ families and survivors and said the attack was personal to his family as well.
“My family is blended family. My wife is the first Hispanic First Lady in Texas. Her family came from Mexico.”
He said his goal is that Texas becomes a more united state going forward. “We need to address this attack for who we are as Texans. We must find ways to address racist hate to reduce it.”
At last week’s roundtable discussion, the Governor said he wants to keep guns away from criminals, he wants to ensure and expedite criminal histories are sent to the background check system, and that background checks for stranger to stranger gun sales and a state law banning straw purchases of guns are considered.
He also said there should be an improvement in reporting of lost and stolen guns.
In addition, he wants to improve existing laws, including red flag laws, so that a mechanism is put in place to ensure guns don’t make it into the hands of dangerous people.
The Governor also said last week he wants to improve the state’s domestic terrorism law. ”
Our goal is to use a domestic terrorism law that will allow us to go after, arrest, and prosecute those who want to commit domestic terrorism before they commit their act of crime like what happened in El Paso.”
He will hold the first meeting of his newly-created Domestic Terrorism Task Force at the Capitol Friday.