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In new campaign ad, Greg Abbott woos Hispanics

Greg Abbott’s first campaign ad since the primaries suggests the Texas attorney general and candidate for governor is looking to reach beyond his white
Greg Abbott
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Republican candidate for governor, right, joins his family on stage as he arrives for his primary victory party, on March 4, 2014, in San Antonio.

Greg Abbott’s first campaign ad since the primaries suggests the Texas attorney general is looking to reach beyond his white conservative base as he runs for governor.

The ad, spoken entirely in Spanish, features Rosie Phalen, Abbott’s sister-in-law, talking about the first time she met Abbott over 30 years ago. And it shows the Abbott family chatting and laughing at a picnic. “His values are our values: faith, family, and honesty,” Phalen says.

Phalen is the sister of Abbott’s wife, Cecelia Abbott, who would be the first Hispanic first lady in Texas history. 

The ad premiered on Univision during Mexico’s World Cup game against Brazil Tuesday, and will continue to air on Spanish-language channels throughout the World Cup.

The ad might be taken as a sign of strength from the Abbott campaign, which is comfortably ahead in recent polling. Abbott, a Republican, appears to feel secure enough about his standing with his base that he can begin reaching out to court swing voters, or even those who might lean Democratic. Abbott has said he wants to do better with Hispanics than any other Texas Republican candidate for governor in history.

Still, Abbott’s record on some key issues could stand in the way.

He opposes expanding Medicaid under Obamacare, a move that would bring healthcare coverage to 1 million Texans, disproportionately Hispanic. Abbott also has defended in court funding cuts to Texas’s public schools, which are over 50 percent Hispanic. He has supported a redistricting plan that a court found deliberately discriminated against Hispanic voters, as well as Texas’s voter ID law, which would have a disproportionate impact on Hispanics. He has been evasive about his stance on Texas’s DREAM Act, which guarantees in-state tuition rates to undocumented students, and was signed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry. And he has compared corruption in heavily Hispanic south Texas to “Third World country practices.”

And Abbott's party isn't helping. It recently adopted a platform that takes a hard line on immigration, opposing any legal status for undocumented immigrants.

Abbott’s opponent, Democrat Wendy Davis, is also looking to reach out to Hispanics. She appears frequently with her Latina running mate, Leticia Van de Putte. And her campaign is working closely with a Democratic group, Battleground Texas, that’s aiming to register large numbers of new voters, many of whom are Hispanic.