Texas Hero: Why Greg Abbott Never Asks ‘Why Me?’

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AUSTIN, Texas --Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is an interesting mix: a modern-day hero to conservatives and a role model to the disabled.

Conservatives embrace him for the way he rushes to take on the establishment, which these days, means the Obama administration. He's already sued them 29 times.

"I go into the office, I sue the federal government and I go home," he quipped.

"State attorneys general can hold their federal government accountable when they overreach, when they intrude into our liberties and when they crush the Constitution," Abbott replied angrily when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scoffed at the audacity of 26 state attorneys general suing the administration over Obamacare.

Abbott was front and center at the U.S. Supreme Court when the justices heard several of the many cases against President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. He praised the protestors outside the high court who were demonstrating against it.

"They're letting the Supreme Court know that a majority of Americans not only believe that Obamacare is wrong, but a majority of Americans actually believe that Obamacare is unconstitutional," he said.

Eternal, Immutable Truths

To Abbott, it's all about being faithful to the Constitution of these United States, a document he believes is based not on men's ideas, but eternal, immutable truths.

Abbott characterized these as "certain founding, fundamental principles that have caused it (America) to be the greatest country in the world. And these are principles that passed the test of time and will exist always."

He believes those principles are from God. This grandchild of a preacher has believed in Him since he was a little boy.

"Faith has been a part of my life since the earliest times I can remember," Abbott told CBN News.

A Life-Altering Tragedy

Abbott needed that faith like never before when he had a horrible encounter in 1984.

"I was out jogging one day and a big 80-foot oak tree fell on me," he recalled. "Hit me in the back, fractured my vertebrae and my spinal cord, leaving me instantly and forever paralyzed, needing to use a wheelchair."

Abbott described Texans as generally can-do, positive people of faith. That's one of the reasons this life-long Texan spent little time questioning God and asking "Why me?"

"That question may have arisen for a day or for an hour. But really no longer than that," he recalled. "And the reasons why those questions didn't linger really is because of my faith, because I've always been one who believed God has a pathway forward for us."

"And frankly it's one of those times when I leaned on God," he continued. "Leaned on my faith more than ever before, and was literally pulled up, pulled forward, moved onward because of the role that God played in my life during that challenging time."

Thirty years later, Abbott chats freely about his disability, even joking about it. He said some politicians will talk about having a steel spine while he actually has one.

But on the serious side, the former Texas Supreme Court justice is quick to point out Texans have never held the wheelchair against him.

"It doesn't matter who you are, where you're from, what your situation is if you bring to the table a can-do spirit, such as 'it doesn't matter that I'm in a wheelchair; I can be a judge or I can be attorney general or I can be whatever I want to be,'" he said. "Texans are welcoming of that attitude."

God-Fearing Texans

The attorney general described Texans as believing so much in the God of liberty, they strongly backed Abbott's successful defense of a large monument to the Ten Commandments outside the state Capitol building in Austin -- a case that put him before the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Everyone understands the role that God plays in our life, and that's why we are able to vigorously defend things like the Ten Commandments and have the general public strongly support things like that," he said of Texans.

That love of liberty also pushes Abbott to get around on his own as much as possible, often surprising people as he drives around Austin in a car that's all hand-controlled.

"One thing I really cherish is my independence," he said. "Not just fighting for independence in the legal system, but my own independence. We as Texans, and I think we as Americans, are an independent people."

No Eye on Washington

Abbot made it clear he would not be seeking a national office, saying driving the roads of Texas is good enough for him.

"I have no eye on Washington," he said. "I have my eye on making Texas as great a state as it can be."

But he insists Texas is such an example of what is best about America that it must continue to be deeply involved in the great issues facing the nation.

"What Texas is trying to do is to stand on the principles of independence and liberty - constitutional principles and faith, and expand that ideology to other states," Abbot said.

And he's not going to let anything as small as a wheelchair get in the way of that mission.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.