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The Brief: Aug. 9, 2010

President Obama's in Texas today. The forecast: sunny skies, triple-digit highs and … a 100-percent chance of awkwardness.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

President Obama's in Texas today. The forecast: sunny skies, triple-digit highs and … a 100-percent chance of awkwardness.

It's Texas, after all — an uncomfortable place for the president, who has seen his approval ratings among Texans sink to 35 percent after losing the state by 11 points in 2008. The tension now has Democrats in the state, including gubernatorial candidate Bill White, making themselves scarce at the same time the state's foremost Republican, Gov. Rick Perry, is running to the president's side. (They'll meet at the airport in Austin to discuss border security.)

For Republicans looking to capitalize on anti-Washington fervor by tying their opponents to an unpopular president — and that includes Perry — Obama's fundraising visit couldn't have come at a more opportune time. But for White — whose staffers have said he's simply too busy campaigning to meet with the president — it's, as the Tribune's Ross Ramsey puts it, a case of hiding your date from your mother. (White will campaign today in Abilene, Alvarado and Midland — avoiding Austin and Dallas, where Obama is fundraising — and said last week the president could "call me if he wants to.")

It's a basic political calculation, but for White, it doesn't come without risk: Get cozy with Obama, lose independents; run from Obama, lose your base.

Either way, "I think it just makes everybody nervous," public affairs consultant Chuck McDonald tells Ramsey.

In addition to appearing at fundraisers, Obama will also deliver a speech on higher education at the University of Texas.

CULLED:

  • Bill White's absence from Obama-related events has some in his party worrying, but others aren't concerned.
  • The president's visit has reignited complaints from state Democrats that their national party uses Texas like an ATM.
  • Rick Perry may be getting all the anti-Obama attention, but he's not the only major state official up for re-election pushing lawsuits against Washington.

"Under the First Amendment, I can't prevent anybody from campaigning for me." — White, who said he doesn't need Obama to help him win

MUST-READ:

Mexican journalists seek more protectionEl Paso Times

Fundraising revives for Texas Democrats — The Associated Press

Gov. Perry says Austin hasn't changed himSan Antonio Express-News

Being cleared of a crime after years in prison doesn’t guarantee immediate compensationHouston Chronicle

Report: U.S. Could Do More to Aid Mexico — The Texas Tribune

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