The Brief: Top Texas News for April 25, 2013

The Big Conversation

The national spotlight turned to Dallas on Wednesday as a cavalcade of political stars began to descend on the city for the dedication of a new presidential library.

Former President George W. Bush's adopted hometown on Wednesday welcomed President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, all of whom are scheduled to attend the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center today.

Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, as well as other big-name national politicians like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, are also expected to appear at the center, which was handed over to the National Archives on Wednesday and will open to the public on May 1.

The center, which will allow visitors to explore Bush's legacy and relive his presidency in an interactive setting, is sure to be a "must-stop for conservatives throughout the country, and a symbol of scorn for those who still abhor Bush and his policies," as The Dallas Morning News recently put it.

Obama, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, however, had other business in Dallas, too. Obama on Thursday will also attend a memorial service in Waco for the victims of the West plant explosion. (He has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff to honor the victims.) Last night in Dallas he also attended a private Democratic fundraiser, at which he offered some praise for Bush.

"One of the things I will insist upon is that whatever our political differences, President Bush loves this country and loves his people, and shares that same concern, and is concerned about all people in America," Obama said, according to The Associated Press. "Not just some. Not just those who voted Republican."

Clinton and Jeb Bush, meanwhile, delivered dueling speeches in the Dallas area on Wednesday — Clinton with the keynote at a National Multi Housing Council conference in Irving and Bush at a World Affairs Council event.

Bush addressed issues like education and spoke of his son, George P. Bush, who is running for Texas land commissioner. The Clinton event was closed to the public.

Culled

•    Former Bush staffers say library can redefine presidency (The Dallas Morning News): "As workers set up long rows of folding chairs on a broad lawn at Southern Methodist University across from the new George W. Bush Presidential Center, a group of Bush’s closest advisers discussed how the library could redefine his presidency. With an administration largely defined by 9/11 and the war on terrorism, and economic turmoil at home, Bush’s approval ratings continue to reflect a nation deeply split by his decisions. The Bush Library will put visitors in that same position, said Andy Card, who served as Bush’s chief of staff."

•    Birdwell Not Giving Up on Campus Carry Legislation (The Texas Tribune): "State Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, said he is 'disappointed and frustrated' that Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire, D-Houston, has not scheduled a hearing for his bill to allow people with concealed handgun licenses to carry firearms in college campus buildings. 'But I'm not backing up, and I’m not giving up,' Birdwell said on Wednesday."

•    Senate Democrats bottle up abortion facilities bill (Austin American-Statesman): "A bill requiring abortion clinics to meet tougher licensing standards has been blocked by Democratic state senators concerned that the legislation would force most Texas clinics to close. But the bill’s author isn’t giving up. State Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, will address Senate Democrats in a private meeting next week in hopes of persuading at least one senator to switch to his side, giving him the 21 votes necessary to bring the bill to the Senate floor."

•    Perry Withdraws Texas Prison Board Nomination (The Texas Tribune): "Gov. Rick Perry withdrew his nomination of Annette Raggette of Austin to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice on Wednesday. … Raggette was once employed by Oliver Bell, chairman of that board, raising questions among some of the senators who would have to confirm the nomination."

Quote of the Day: "I understand that Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And beyond the fact that there are a whole lot of Democrats in Texas, there are a whole lot people here in Texas who need us." — President Obama at a private Democratic fundraiser in Dallas on Wednesday

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