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Republican draws fire for campaigning with Ted Nugent

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott briefs the media on April 18, 2013 in West, Texas
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott briefs the media on April 18, 2013 in West, Texas

A Republican hopeful for Texas governor drew harsh criticism for hitting the campaign trail Tuesday with Ted Nugent, the controversial rocker who recently described President Barack Obama as a "subhuman mongrel."

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott appeared at two campaign stops with the outspoken gun-loving musician-turned-commentator on the first day of early primary voting in the traditionally Republican state where he faces a surprisingly tough challenge by a rising-star Democrat.

Nugent, who sits on the board of the National Rifle Association, used inflammatory and racially-charged language last month to describe the president.

"I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod if not shame enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America," Nugent told Guns.com.

The state's Democratic Party lambasted Abbott for agreeing to campaign with a man whose comments -- Nugent became subject of an FBI investigation in 2012 when he said he would be "dead or in jail" if Obama got re-elected -- are seen as polarizing and often beyond the pale.

"Texans deserve better than a statewide office holder and candidate running for governor who welcomes Ted Nugent and his repugnant comments," said Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa.

Abbott's likely Democratic rival in November's election, Wendy Davis, said Abbott's appearance alongside Nugent was "an insult to every woman," according to KERA News.

Nugent, 65, has a history of demeaning women, from calling them "fat pigs" to branding former secretary of state Hillary Clinton a "worthless bitch."

At a Tuesday appearance with Abbott at a North Texas restaurant, Nugent played it safe, according to the Texas Tribune. "Greg Abbott and only Greg Abbott will keep Texas free," he was quoted as saying.

The campaign involvement by Nugent, who moved to Texas from his native Michigan years ago, could be seen as an effort by Abbott to cater to the Republican base -- a group of core conservatives seen as largely aligning with Nugent's pro-liberty, anti-liberal ideology.

Republicans are under pressure to broaden their appeal among minorities, women and youth after those demographics helped secure Obama's 2012 re-election.

With Abbott's decision to campaign alongside Nugent garnering criticism, Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch doubled down, saying Nugent "is a forceful advocate for individual liberty and constitutional rights."

"While he may sometimes say things or use language that Greg Abbott would not endorse or agree with, we appreciate the support of everyone who supports protecting our Constitution," Hirsch said.

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