Texas Governor Rick Perry took a personal swipe at state Senator Wendy Davis, the Texas State Senator Democrat who led a more than 11-hour filibuster this week to help kill a controversial abortion bill he supports.
Mr Perry made these comments on Thursday during the opening session of the 2013 National Right to Life Convention.
‘‘It’s just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example: that every life must be given a chance to realise its full potential; that every life is precious,’’ Mr Perry told the crowd.
Ms Davis - who has openly talked about how she, by the age of 19, was a divorced, single mother, working two jobs and raising her child as they lived in a trailer park - quickly fired back at the governor.
‘‘Rick Perry’s statement is without dignity and tarnishes the high office he holds,’’ she said. ‘‘They are small words that reflect a dark and negative point of view.
‘‘Our governor should reflect our Texas values,’’ she said. ‘‘Sadly, Gov. Perry fails that test.’’
Ms Davis has twice filibustered, once in 2011 over the state budget and once earlier this week over the abortion bill. Each time, Mr Perry called lawmakers back to work in a special session.
In 2011, the governor called Davis a ‘‘show horse.’’
On Thursday, he got more personal.
‘‘Who are we to say that children born into the worst of circumstances can’t grow to live successful lives?’’ he said, adding that even Davis ‘‘was born into difficult circumstances.’’
‘‘I know she’s proud of where she has found herself in life,’’ Mr Perry told reporters after his speech. ‘‘I’m proud that she has been able to take advantage of her intellect and her hard work, but she didn’t come from particularly good circumstances.
‘‘What if her mum had said, ’I just can’t do this, I don’t want to do this.’ At that particular point in time I think it becomes very personal for us.’’
The abortion bill ran into trouble Tuesday, on the last day of the session, after Ms Davis began her filibuster.
Late that night, chaos erupted in the Texas Senate when senators tried to take a last-minute vote on the bill after ending Ms Davis’ filibuster - and observers in the gallery drowned out senators’ voices, preventing them from knowing whether they had cast a vote for the measure.
Hours after the special session expired at midnight Tuesday, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst acknowledged that votes cast in the chaotic chamber - capturing national attention - came after the midnight deadline and were not valid.
‘‘We witnessed the extremes the pro-abortion forces will resort to in order to further their cause,’’ Mr Perry said. ‘‘They demonstrated that, even if they lose at the ballot box, even if they come up short in attempts to stall on the Senate floor, they will resort to mob tactics to force their minority agenda on the people of Texas.
‘‘I’m all about honest, open debate, and parliamentary tactics are certainly nothing new, but what we witnessed Tuesday was nothing more than the hijacking of the democratic process,’’ he said. ‘‘This is simply too important a cause to allow the unruly actions of a few to stand in its way.’’
Senator Davis, 50, started working at age 14 to help support her single mother and three siblings. By 19, she was already married and divorced with a child of her own, but she eventually graduated with honours from Harvard Law School and won her Senate seat in an upset.