Abbott dismisses criticism over ties to author

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Associated Press

Posted on April 2, 2014 at 6:32 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 3 at 9:04 AM

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Republican Greg Abbott on Thursday defended citing conservative scholar Charles Murray in his education plan after attacks by Democrat Wendy Davis in their race for Texas governor.

Murray is a best-selling author who currently works for the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

In a 26-page early education plan released this week, Abbott wrote that family background has "the most decisive effect" on student achievement and performance gaps. The claim is cited to a 2008 book by Murray.

The Davis campaign has criticized Abbott for citing Murray and seized on a 2005 column in which Murray wrote that men are more aggressive and competitive than women.

Abbott on Thursday said Murray is often widely cited and ran down a list of mainstream publications that have published Murray's work.

"They get involved in petty things like looking at some comment that someone may have made who was cited in a footnote," Abbott said.

Abbott was put on the defensive in February after a campaign stop with shock-rocker Ted Nugent, who a month earlier had called President Barack Obama a "subhuman mongrel." Abbott initially said he wasn't aware of Nugent's divisive comments but later acknowledged the remarks that were condemned by Gov. Rick Perry and other Republicans.

Education is a dominant issue in the race to succeed Perry next year. Davis has called for higher-quality prekindergarten and expanded eligibility, while Abbott is proposing more prekindergarten funding for districts only if higher standards are met.

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