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Abbott, Nugent stir up crowd with strong message during campaign stop in Denton

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott brought his campaign for the governor’s office to Denton, urging a packed crowd of Republican faithful to turn out the vote “to keep Texas the reddest state in the United States of America.”

But Abbott shrugged off controversy over rocker Ted Nugent, who joined him Tuesday in campaign stops in Denton and later Wichita Falls on the first day of early voting across the state.

Abbott drew criticism from likely Democratic opponent Wendy Davis and women’s groups for campaigning with Nugent, who has a history of abusive name-calling and has admitted to having relationships with underage girls.

“I can’t read everything,”Abbott said, when asked about Nugent.

Nugent, drawing on his nickname as the Motor City Madman, introduced Abbott to the standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 people at El Guapo’s but didn’t sidestep the controversy.

“We don’t have to question Greg Abbott’s courage, because he invited me here today,” he said, to laughs and applause.

He urged the crowd — many of whom waved signs supporting Abbott’s campaign — to turn out in force to protect freedoms, the Second Amendment and the U.S. Constitution for Texans.

“The battle cry is to turn this group into tens of thousands of people,” he said. “Only Greg Abbott will keep Texas free, will keep Texas Texas.”

Abbott stuck to the basics with the Denton-area crowd, touting his record of filing lawsuits against the Obama administration, protecting gun rights and fighting for religious freedom and voter ID laws.

“I didn’t invent the phrase‘Don’t Mess With Texas,’ but I have used it more than anybody else in this state,” he said. “I will never stop fighting.”

He also pledged to improve Texas roadways, and mentioned problems on Interstate 35 in touting his plan to spend $4 billion to $5 billion to improve Texas roadways without any new taxes. And he promised to keep Texas at the top in job growth and business.

“Texas is exceptional,” he said, “and as governor, I will keep it that way.”

At one point during his talk, the lunchtime Mexican music began to play, prompting Abbott to point out that his wife, Cecilia, would become the first Latina first lady of Texas if he is elected.

He ended the stump speech with a call to action for Republicans.

“We need you to go vote today... to ensure that Barack Obama’s political machine is not going to hijack the state of Texas,” he said. “Grab a friend, grab a neighbor ... and go vote.”

After the speech, Nugent dismissed the criticisms about him. When asked by a reporter if he wanted to comment on Davis’ saying she was “disgusted” that Abbott was campaigning with Nugent, he said, “She’s good at being disgusted because she’s disgusting.”

Early voting started Tuesday and continues through Feb. 28.

This article contains material from The Associated Press and The Dallas Morning News.

DIANNA HUNT can be reached at 940-566-6884 and on Twitter at @DiannaHunt.

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