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Texas governor hopeful Medina appears to endorse, then disavows theory that government was behind Sept. 11

February 12, 2010 |  6:07 pm

Sept. 11

Voters love amateur politicians. Unvarnished! Unscripted! Throw that caution to the wind!

It’s kind of like a new romance, all full of wide-eyed wonder -- until one of those uh-oh moments. Debra Medina, the Lone Star phenom, is now learning that painful lesson.

As noted here earlier this week, Medina -- a registered nurse, small business owner and first-time political candidate -- has surged from nowhere to become a serious force in the Republican race for Texas governor.

Since that report, several more polls have come out, suggesting Medina could push past Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the former front-runner in the March 3 primary, and force Gov. Rick Perry into an April runoff. Then she ventured Thursday onto Glenn Beck’s nationally syndicated radio show, which is not exactly a lion’s den for a "tea party" favorite like Medina.

Beck asked whether she believed the government had any involvement in the 9/11 attacks. “I think some very good questions have been raised in that regard,” Medina replied. “There are some very good arguments and I think the American people have not seen all the evidence there, so I’ve not taken a position on that.”

Whoops.

Medina quickly issued a clarification, disavowing the nutty theory. (In a similar vein, she told KAVU-TV in Victoria earlier this week that it was “healthy that people are asking questions” about whether President Obama is an American citizen and eligible to be president.)

The 9/11 retraction came too late. Perry and Hutchison both pounced and...

... issued statements condemning their newly relevant rival. An “insult” to Americans who lost their lives and to a fellow Texan, President George W. Bush, said Perry. “An affront to the men and women who are sacrificing their lives to root out the terrorists in Afghanistan and around the globe,” said Hutchison.

Just the night before, in an interview with the Ticket, Medina was asked if she was up to the scrutiny that was sure to come with her increased prominence. “Absolutely,” she said, between sips of hot tea with lemon. “And you know why? Because it’s not about me, or what happens to me. It’s about writing good policy for the state. So if the policies that I’m advancing can’t stand up to some scrutiny, then they don’t need to be passed.”

 Yes, but -- there are things like judgment and personal beliefs that many voters weigh in choosing a candidate. Medina called a news conference Friday and said she was taken by surprise and misspoke on Beck’s show.

“I could have done that better and I’ll endeavor to be a little more articulate in the future,” she said.

Medina then blamed the ensuing controversy on Perry and Hutchison, suggesting she was a target because of her rise in the polls. “I’m doing some damage,” Medina said, suggesting her rivals were trying to “make sure we get out of the way.”

The question now is how much damage Medina has done to her campaign. Some analysts see the bottom falling out, which could be good news for Hutchison -- unless Medina supporters turn to the more conservative Perry.

Polls give him a decent shot at winning the 50% he needs to capture the nomination outright. But there are more than two weeks left until the primary. (Early voting starts Tuesday.) Two weeks ago, the idea of Medina finishing ahead of Hutchison seemed like, well, one of those nutty conspiracy theories.

-- Mark Z. Barabak

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Photo: Associated Press.

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