Medina strikes back after 9/11 comments

February 12, 2010 5:12:58 PM PST
One day after Republican candidate for governor Debra Medina's insurgent campaign hit a speed bump, she's striking back. After comments on Glenn Beck's radio show Thursday that seemed to support 9/11 conspiracy theories, she says she was set up by her opponents. The controversy is threatening to derail her campaign just days after polls showed her in a statistical tie with U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

We sat down with Medina to put the comments and her campaign in focus.

It is seemingly all Debra Medina can talk about now.

"We had a tough interview this morning It was something I never talked about before," Medina said.

The interview with Glenn Beck with the questions about 9/11 conspiracies that seemed to come from left field and the answer that left some doubt.

On the show, Medina said, "There are some very good arguments and I think the American people have not seen all of the evidence there so I have not taken a position on that."

When she sat down with us, she explained further.

"I think the questions I've heard asked are how the buildings fell. I am not the engineer to know that, but they are good relevant questions to ask," Medina told us.

Her opponents seized on it as a sign she was wrong for Texas. Medina sees that as a sign she's getting too popular.

"We've known that we would get to a point in the campaign that we are enough of a threat that we would get attacked," she said.

In recent polls, Governor Perry still comfortably leads the Republican race, but Medina, a former nurse and Wharton County Republican Chairwoman, is close to or tied with Senator Hutchison.

You could almost see it happening the night of the first debate as the two experienced politicians attacked each other.

"I think Texas is ready for new leadership and this squabbling isn't getting us anywhere," Medina said during that first debate.

Her events got more crowded, her website busier, her message of limited government and state's rights apparently hitting home.

"I want to see another choice for governor," said supporter John Martin.

Medina sees Texas government as bloated, trying to do too much, and she feels the federal government is threatening Texas' freedom. Her comments a year ago on secession got an awful lot of attention.

"We understand the tree of freedom is occasionally watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots," Medina said at the time.

She explained to us, "I was trying to say be careful, you don't have bloodless revolutions."

She says the state should nullify federal laws Texas doesn't agree with like health care reform. She wants to keep all of Texas' gas tax money from the feds, replace Texas' property tax with a 15-cent sales tax, and do away with the law requiring a concealed carry permit. She by the way doesn't have one.

"I have the right to defend my life and if I choose to do that with a weapon, the government shouldn't be able to take that," Medina said.

It's a message from a political newcomer that resonated with as many as one in four Texas Republican voters who were ready to catapult her into the governor's mansion.

When we asked Medina if she is ready to be governor, she replied, "I've got another 10 months to get there. I will be working hard."

In her news conference Friday, it is clear Medina was trying to clean up the mess. But in our interview with her hours after the Beck radio show, she repeated there are still questions that need to be answered. On Friday, she told reporters she is curious why no New York City police officers died in the towers when so many firefighters did. That's not true, however, as 60 police officers were killed.

We've posted more of our interview with Medina here so you can hear thoughts on 9/11 conspiracies and President Barack Obama's citizenship.