THE BIG CONVERSATION:
President Barack Obama's whirlwind sweep through Texas on Monday left in its wake some roused spirits and empty wallets but … not a whole lot else.
Obama, whose trip to the state had pols and the media buzzing since its announcement last month, landed in Austin on Monday amid reports of fleeing Democrats. Set to fundraise in the capital and in Dallas, the president, whose approval ratings in the state lie in the mid-30s, had been repeatedly described with one word in the run-up to his visit: liability — namely, for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White, who's gunning for centrists in his gubernatorial bid.
But that buildup largely overshadowed the actual political fallout from the president's visit. News-wise, things went as expected, with White lying low in West Texas as Obama hauled in over $1 million for Democrats at two fundraising events and stopped briefly in true-blue Travis County to deliver a speech on higher education at the University of Texas. Obama singled out — but didn't name — Republicans in his remarks, and protesters and supporters made some noise. (The Tribune and KUT News were there every step of the way — even at the fancy fundraiser lunch — for the Austin leg of the president's trip).
But despite a lack of twists and turns, Gov. Rick Perry, a loud and proud critic of Obama's, provided a moment of political intrigue when he met the president at the Austin airport. Perry, on the tarmac, handed a letter to the president, who then had his adviser Valerie Jerrett accept it. In the four-page document, Perry requested that more Border Patrol agents be deployed to the Texas-Mexico border. "The purpose of this letter is to reiterate the dire threat amassing on our southern border," the letter began.
Perry, with some time to spare after the tarmac meeting with the president, which lasted literally less than a minute, took to bashing Obama again the rest of the day.
- Attorney General Greg Abbott will be staying silent on a case involving transgender marriage. The AG also made news Monday as he filed a suit against the BP refinery in Texas City where a fire released 500,000 pounds of pollutants.
- U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards announced Monday that he had secured two significant endorsements.
“I’ve been to probably a hundred of these. That’s the first time I’ve seen a governor applaud.” — White House spokesman Bill Burton on the curious sight of Gov. Rick Perry giving Obama's tarmac landing a round of applause. It was the "gracious thing to do," Perry later said.
PolitiFact: Rick Perry says Bill White profiteered in hurricane's aftermath — Austin American-Statesman
Rep. Chet Edwards' seat in Texas emerging as must-win for GOP — The Washington Post
Texas files suit against BP over plant’s toxic emissions — Houston Chronicle
Oiled Pelicans Find Sanctuary on Texas Coast — The Texas Tribune
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