A walk in Wendy Davis’ shoes: The woman behind the long filibuster

Jeff Zeleny, Richard Coolidge, and Jordyn Phelps
Power Players
A walk in Wendy Davis’ shoes: The woman behind the long filibuster

The Fine Print

Before state Sen. Wendy Davis began filibustering a restrictive abortion bill in the Texas Capitol last week, she grabbed her pink running shoes. She may need to lace them up again, because another special session of the Texas legislature is underway again this week.

“I thought maybe I might need something with a little more support, so I grabbed these on the way out the door,” Davis tells The Fine Print during an interview at her father’s small theater in Fort Worth, Texas, where she once waited tables.

“These are actually my running shoes.  They're dusty from the trail around Ladybird Lake,” she says, pointing to her Mizuno running shoes sitting on the table. Davis, a Harvard-educated attorney and single mother, wore the shoes as she stood for 11 hours and successfully blocked the passage of a bill that calls for banning abortions in Texas after 20 weeks into a pregnancy. Davis smiled when asked whether she used a catheter to avoid leaving the Senate floor, saying: “I came prepared.”

Since the filibuster, Davis has gained national acclaim among Democrats.

“I never could have predicted the enthusiasm, the energy, the courage of people in Texas who showed up at the Capitol on Tuesday to exercise their voices in this very important conversation,” Davis says.

But she also gained some political enemies—the most prominent being Texas' Republican governor, Rick Perry, who got personal in his criticism of Davis, who became a young mother when she was 18.

"It's just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters," Perry said, alluding to Davis in a speech before a national Right to Life conference last Thursday. Perry has also called for a special session to reconsider the bill that Davis blocked, and the bill is expected to pass then.

Asked to respond to Perry’s comment, Davis says “it's very unfortunate and sad that people's personal health and safety are at risk for his political purposes.”

“It's Rick Perry and his political aspirations, and I think [Texas voters are] growing weary of being used as a pawn in that game,” she says, referring to Texas voters.

For more of the interview with Davis, including the story of her personal journey from being a young single mother to becoming a Harvard Law trained attorney and politician, check out this episode of The Fine Print.

ABC's Arlette Saenz, Eric Wray, Ron Ladd, Ken Collins and Dale Hancock contributed to this episode.