Rocker Ted Nugent stirs controversy in Texas governor’s race

Ted Nugent performs during the opening ceremony of the National Rifle Assn.'s annual convention in 2006. The rocker has been invited to appear with Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott, the state's attorney general.
(Morry Gash / Associated Press)

Kids say the darnedest things. Grown-ups, too. Otherwise, what would fill all those hours of reality TV? How could we possibly survive the dreaded work function without the benefit of an occasional indiscretion to enliven the forced merriment?

We may laugh, or cringe, but we usually don’t blame those in close proximity for the offensive, weird or wacky things others say in their presence.

In politics, though, it’s different. By accepting someone’s backing, or inviting them onto the campaign stage, there is often an assumption the sentiment runs both ways: Someone endorses a candidate and the candidate, therefore, embraces their supporter and their worldview.


Which explains why Texas Democrats were eager to welcome Ted Nugent, the sexagenarian rocker, to their state with a catalog of his provocative pronouncements ahead of his scheduled appearance Tuesday alongside the GOP’s likely gubernatorial nominee, state Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott.

To wit: Nugent’s recent description of President Obama as “a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel … ACORN community organizer gangster.” (This run-on characterization as per the Dallas Morning News, quoting Nugent at a Las Vegas hunting and outdoor trade show last month.)

Or, regarding various female political leaders, Nugent’s alleged use of the words “brain-dead soulless idiot,” “varmints,” “fat pigs” and “dirty whores,” to cite only some of the vocabulary. (A compilation courtesy of Annie’s List, a Texas group that works to recruit and elect women candidates.)

The Abbott campaign released a statement Monday putting a bit of distance between the candidate and Nugent’s piquant opinions, if not the man himself.

“Ted Nugent is a forceful advocate for individual liberty and constitutional rights -- especially the 2nd Amendment rights cherished by Texans,” said Matt Hirsch, an Abbott spokesman. “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.”

The curious thing about the episode is not that Nugent says things that many find so blazingly offensive; his fulminating rants against Obama have made him a folk hero to some on the far right. Rather, it is why Abbott, a strong favorite in November to beat Democratic hopeful Wendy Davis, would invite Nugent, and the ensuing controversy, into the race.

Cat-scratch fever?

Twitter: @markzbarabak