Austin, Texas (AP) – A Republican gubernatorial candidate said Thursday she has questions about whether the U.S. government was involved in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks – a statement she swiftly backed away from and one that drew immediate criticism from her better-known rivals in the race.
Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison dismissed the comments made by Debra Medina on the Glenn Beck Show that there were "some very good arguments" that the U.S. was involved in bringing down the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
"I don't have all of the evidence there, Glenn," Medina said. "I think some very good questions have been raised. In that regard there's some very good arguments and I think the American people have not seen all the evidence there."
Medina later released a statement saying she did not believe the government was involved in the attacks.
"There is no doubt in my mind that Muslim terrorists flew planes into those buildings on 9/11," Medina said in the written statement. "I have not seen any evidence nor have I ever believed that our government was involved or directed those individuals in any way."
Medina, Perry and Hutchison are battling for the GOP nomination. In recent weeks, Medina has surprised political observers by surging in public opinion polls and raising her profile in two televised debates.
Perry said Medina's remarks "were an insult to the thousands of Americans who lost loved ones." He countered that anyone "should be ashamed" for suggesting involvement by former President George W. Bush's administration. Bush was Perry's predecessor as Texas governor.
Hutchison stressed that it was "al-Qaida terrorists who declared war on America. To suggest otherwise is an affront to the men and women who are sacrificing their lives to root out the terrorists in Afghanistan and around the globe."
Beck, who is influential among the Libertarian-leaning voters that Medina has attracted, said he had been flooded with mail since he announced she would be on the show. Medina said in the interview that she has not been questioning the attacks publicly.
"There was a theme that ran against you, and that is, you are a '9/11 Truther,'" Beck said, referring to the term given to people who doubt the official account of Sept. 11.
"While I don't endorse anyone ... I think I can write her off the list," Beck said. "Let me take another look at Kay Bailey Hutchison if I have to. Rick, I think you and I could French kiss right now."
A candidate for Texas governor said Thursday she has questions about whether the U.S. government was involved in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, comments that prompted television host Glenn Beck to remark, 'I think I can write her off the list.'