For the second time this year, President Obama is paying a visit to Texas. Obama is expected to attend fundraisers in Dallas today before heading to Mesquite for a 3 p.m. speech at Eastfield College. White House staff say the president's remarks will focus on his effort to convince Congress to pass his jobs program, the American Jobs Act.
Obama is touting the proposed package, according to his staff, as a way "to keep teachers in the classroom, rebuild our schools across the nation, and put more money in the pockets of working Americans, while not adding a dime to the deficit."
Texas could be considered hostile political territory, especially since Gov. Rick Perry officially announced in August that he would seek the GOP nomination to face Obama in 2012. In 2008, Obama lost big in Texas to then-Republican nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
In coming to Texas, Obama also is challenging the governor on what the Perry campaign believes is the Texan's strongest issue: job creation. Perry has lost few opportunities to point out that Texas has created more jobs during his tenure as governor than any other state. He has also harshly criticized Obama's jobs plan as another example of failure at the federal level.
“President Obama’s call for nearly a half-trillion dollars in more government stimulus when America has more than $14 trillion in debt is guided by his mistaken belief that we can spend our way to prosperity,” Perry said shortly after Obama unveiled his plan earlier this month. “America needs jobs, smaller government, less spending and a president with the courage to offer more than yet another speech.”
Dale Craymer, the president of Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, a nonpartisan business trade association in Austin, says it makes sense that Obama would want to defend his jobs package in the Lone Star State, even if its electorate may not side with him.
"We’re also the second-largest state in the union, one of the biggest economies in the nation, and one of the brighter stars among the national landscape in terms of economic growth, so it’s reasonable to pay attention to Texas," Craymer said. "There’s a lot to be gained here. And ultimately, it may involve governing as much as it does politics."
Obama last visited Texas in May, when he came to Austin for fundraisers.
The Dallas fundraising events and the Eastfield College speech are closed to the public, but Eastfield students, faculty and staff are expected to be in the audience.
The Tribune will have more coverage of Obama's remarks later today.