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Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis (D) landed in hot water over the weekend when the Dallas Morning News revealed that details of her biography had been "blurred."
Here's what the paper wrote about the state senator, who rose to prominence after her filibuster of Texas' anti-abortion legislation and gained national acclaim from Democrats
The basic elements of the narrative are true, but the full story of Davis’ life is more complicated, as often happens when public figures aim to define themselves. In the shorthand version that has developed, some facts have been blurred.Davis was 21, not 19, when she was divorced. She lived only a few months in the family mobile home while separated from her husband before moving into an apartment with her daughter. A single mother working two jobs, she met Jeff Davis, a lawyer 13 years older than her, married him and had a second daughter. He paid for her last two years at Texas Christian University and her time at Harvard Law School, and kept their two daughters while she was in Boston. When they divorced in 2005, he was granted parental custody, and the girls stayed with him. Wendy Davis was directed to pay child support.
Initially, she acknowledged the fuzzy details in an interview with reporter Wayne Slater. "My language should be tighter,” she said. “I’m learning about using broader, looser language. I need to be more focused on the detail.”
But now that conservative critics have pounced on the episode that threatens to derail her gubernatorial hopes, Davis is defiantly fighting back.
In an email to EMILY's List, a group devoted to electing Democratic women, that was then sent out as a fundraising solicitation by the group, Davis takes a very different tone from her more contrite comments to the Dallas Morning News. She calls her critics "desperate" and adds, "They've stooped to a new low by attacking my family, my education, and my personal story -- playing politics with the journey that has been my life."
She continues, "Mine is a story about a teenage single mother who struggled to keep her young family afloat. It's a story about a young woman who was given a precious opportunity to work her way up in the world. It's a story about resiliency, and sacrifice, and perseverance. And you're damn right it's a true story. Throughout this campaign, I've shared that story -- not because it's unique, but because it isn't."
She does not acknowledge any of her "need to be more focused on the detail."
Democrats following the race say she is pushing back so hard now because of how far conservative attacks have gone.
"She said she was divorced at 19 - truth is she was separated at 19 and the divorce became official at 21," said one Democratic operative. "I think that's a pretty clear case of needing tighter language. Not of 'holes in her bio.'”
The same operative added, “She did live with her young daughter in a trailer. Republicans are saying that she did not live there for long enough to tell that story.”
And: “She did put herself through school - community college and Texas Christian where she was first in her class -- with the help of aid and scholarships. Republicans are attacking her because her second husband helped with the advanced degree from Harvard Law. And the attacks have been vicious and offensive.”
The campaign of her opponent -- and favorite to become the next Texas governor -- Attorney General Greg Abbott, said Davis "systematically, intentionally and repeatedly deceived Texans for years about her background, yet she expects voters to indulge her fanciful narrative."
Radio-host Rush Limbaugh said Davis "would’ve ended up being really poor and destitute were it not for a man."
For what it's worth, the "sugar daddy" in question says he thinks she would be a good governor.
"Despite our differences, Wendy would make a very capable governor," he told CNN by email. "Certain comments seem to always be taken out of context and the firestorm of Facebook/hashtag stuff is not useful for forming opinions."