Anderson Cooper Plugs Texas Legislator's Pro-Choice Filibuster; Asks Her If She'll Do It Again

Despite a busy news night by his own admission, CNN's Anderson Cooper made time to highlight a Texas Democratic state senator's filibuster against pro-life legislation.

Cooper gave a soft interview to state senator Wendy Davis, "a hero to some in the fight over abortion." Her accomplishment? She "took a stand against a bill restricting abortions in the state."

Cooper gushed over the "remarkable scene" where a mob disrupted the legislative vote to the point where the vote was nullified because of the delay. Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards was on hand to dance on the bill's grave.

"It was a remarkable scene, as you said thousands flocking to the state capital, tens of thousands more joined online including the President who tweeted about it, the protesters in the senate chamber. Did you have any idea that it would grow like this? About the kind of reaction that might happen?" Cooper asked Davis.

And Cooper touted Davis' filibuster. "I mean, obviously a marathon filibuster yesterday, no food, no water, no breaks, nothing for all those hours. How are you even awake today?" He even asked her if she would do it again.

"You filibustered before yesterday. Will you filibuster again? Do you still have those sneakers ready to go?"

Davis filibustered a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, as well as update the regulations on abortion facilities and mandate that abortion providers have admitting privileges at the local hospital. After the horrific Gosnell trial that Cooper (barely) covered, are those regulations really that controversial? Cooper's soft interview implies that they are.

Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on Anderson Cooper 360 on June 26 at 8:42 p.m. EDT:

ANDERSON COOPER: "Raw Politics" tonight, the Texas state senator that everyone is talking about. Wendy Davis, a Democrat, took a stand against a bill restricting abortions in the state. She took a stand and remained standing talking for nearly 11 hours straight in a filibuster. She planned to go for 13 hours trying to run out the clock in a special session, but the chair of the Republican-controlled chamber ruled she went off topic and the filibuster was cut short.

The bill still failed though. The State Senate needed to vote on the bill by midnight. After the filibuster was cut short, people in the gallery booed and chanted for 15 minutes and the vote wasn't completed by the deadline. Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund made the announcement to supporters.

(Video Clip)

CECILE RICHARDS, president, Planned Parenthood : The lieutenant governor has agreed that SB 5 is dead.

(End Video Clip)

COOPER: That fight is not over however. Late today Texas Governor Rick Perry called a new special session to convene on July 1st to take up that same abortion bill. Texas State Senator Wendy Davis joins me now live and she is sitting. A – that was, I mean, obviously a marathon filibuster yesterday, no food, no water, no breaks, nothing for all those hours. How are you even awake today?

WENDY DAVIS, Texas State Senate: I'm running on adrenaline today. It was an amazing moment for democracy in Texas yesterday, it truly was.

COOPER: What was it like? Standing for that long, speaking for that long, not going to the bathroom, just – I mean, what is it like to filibuster for 11 hours?

DAVIS: I underestimated how difficult it would be both physically and mentally. About two hours in I realized I was in for a long day. My back started hurting pretty early on and began to really hurt as the hours ticked by, but there were so many people in the capital yesterday, Anderson, a record number of people. They literally had to lock the doors because they had filled our enormous Texas capital to capacity, and their energy kept me going throughout the day. They were amazing.

COOPER: It was a remarkable scene, as you said thousands flocking to the state capital, tens of thousands more joined online including the President who tweeted about it, the protesters in the senate chamber. Did you have any idea that it would grow like this? About the kind of reaction that might happen?

DAVIS: I had absolutely no idea, and I was amazed by it. When I started the filibuster that morning, yesterday morning, the gallery was already full, and we understood that people in Texas were watching, but we had no idea the extent to which people throughout the state would be watching, and honestly throughout the country.

COOPER: Governor Perry is intent on passing this bill. The measure seems likely to pass. I think some might ask what you accomplished by doing this. What would you say to them?

DAVIS: Yes, I think the most important thing that we accomplished is we empowered the voice of people in Texas, and people who wanted to stand against this intrusion, this governmental, big government intrusion into their personal lives and liberty was given a voice through the filibuster. I had an opportunity to read from so many people who had sent letters and e-mails to our office telling their personal story, asking that government stay out of their private decision-making.

And what I think this has done is empowered people to understand that when they involve themselves in a democracy, they truly can make a difference. And they made the difference in the Texas capital yesterday, and I think this will linger, Anderson. I think this will linger, Anderson. I think that even if this bill passes in this next call special session, the reaction to it won't be a partisan one. It's a reaction coming from Republicans, independents and Democrats alike, which is saying Governor Perry, Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst, stay out of my private decision making.

COOPER: I want to ask you about something that's been raising some eyebrows today, the Senate did manage to vote, but after the midnight deadline however. But when the official Texas legislative time sheet for votes, the voting date was changed from the 26th to the 25th. Do you believe this was done intentionally in order for the measure to pass?

DAVIS: I know it was done intentionally based on a conversation that one of my Senate colleagues had with the office that actually puts that online or makes that information available, and he was told by them when he asked why the date was changed, that they were instructed to do it. So we know it was purposeful, and I think there is going to be further investigation as to exactly what happened there. By changing the date, it would have changed the outcome and it would have assured that the vote would have reflected a timely vote, and that the bill would have been defeated.

COOPER: You filibustered before yesterday. Will you filibuster again? Do you still have those sneakers ready to go?

DAVIS: I still have my sneakers with me. I don't know what will happen in the next session. We were fortunate this time that this item didn't come to the call for our final consideration until the last day of the session, and that's what gave us the opportunity to successfully filibuster it. If they are smarter about their time management going into this next called session, it's likely we won't have an opportunity to do this again.

COOPER: Well, Wendy Davis, I appreciate you being on the program tonight. Thank you.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014