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Until there’s something to talk about we’ll talk about the talk

I have two things to say about this.

Still not Greg Abbott

Attorney General Greg Abbott doesn’t want to talk about whether he is running for governor, but he is in overdrive on all the issues that make him a leading contender for the Republican nod, even if Gov. Rick Perry runs for re-election.

Abortion? The stalwart abortion opponent appeared with Perry at Saturday’s Rally for Life at the Capitol, proclaiming, “I believe the evidence shows that Texas is the most pro-life state in the United States of America.”

Guns? Abbott got national attention with an Internet ad inviting New Yorkers tired of pesky gun laws to come on down to Texas.

President Barack Obama? Abbott is quick to tout the numerous lawsuits his agency has filed against the federal government over everything from environmental regulation to health care.

Campaign cash? The latest finance reports created a buzz when they showed Abbott sitting on an $18 million war chest, collected over years, to $6 million for Perry, although their fundraising in the past six months was much closer – $4.1 million by Abbott to nearly $3.6 million raised by Perry.

Just curious here, but does Greg Abbott ever talk about a positive vision for Texas, or is it all about the things he stands resolutely against? To borrow from the Slacktivist, I’m sure Abbott has a very firm stance, but what does he want to achieve for Texas? What problems does he see that need solving, and how would he solve them? And is there anything in there that might be remotely appealing to someone who isn’t a very conservative Republican primary voter? Is there any matter of policy at all where he differs from the base? Rick Perry at least had the Texas DREAM Act to point to as his example of independence, though it wasn’t controversial when he signed it in 2001. What, besides “it’s time for a change” and “he wasn’t conservative enough” will Greg Abbott’s main critique of Rick Perry be? Whatever the answers to those questions, it’s not clear to me we’ll hear much about any of that any time soon. Lord knows a contested primary isn’t going to be a battle of ideas.

“Everything is pure speculation until this summer, but I can envision virtually no scenario where Governor Perry and Attorney General Abbott face off against each other,” said lobbyist Ray Sullivan, Perry’s former gubernatorial chief of staff and his former presidential campaign communications director.

Sullivan cited the men’s friendship, similar philosophies and partnership on policy.

Some think Perry will decide not to run; others say that if Perry runs, Abbott will aim instead for lieutenant governor.

“There are a myriad of possibilities,” Sullivan said.

I say there are two possibilities. Either Rick Perry decides it’s time to gracefully retire and hand his throne to someone else – i.e., Greg Abbott – or he decides he isn’t ready to go peacefully into the night and he declares that if anyone wants the keys to the Mansion they will have to take them from him. If it’s the latter, then the question is whether Abbott picks up the gauntlet or not. That’s what it comes down to, and you can interpret remarks like Perry’s statement that Abbott won’t run against him if he runs however you want. Everything else is just details. Scott Braddock has more.

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