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The Brief: July 18, 2012

President Obama on Tuesday gave Texans what could be their last real taste of the presidential race until November.

President Obama speaks to about 1,100 supporters at the Austin Music Hall on July 17. 2012.

The Big Conversation:

President Barack Obama on Tuesday gave Texans what could be their last real taste of the presidential race until November.

Obama swung through Texas on Tuesday, drawing enthusiastic crowds — and likely collecting millions of dollars — at fundraising events in San Antonio and Austin.

In San Antonio, the president's first stop of the day, more than 1,000 supporters crowded into the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center to hear Obama tout his administration's accomplishments and take aim at Mitt Romney.

"I don't want pioneers of outsourcing in the White House. I want somebody who believes in in-sourcing," Obama said in a swipe at Romney, adding, "I believe in fighting on behalf of working families and giving them opportunity and putting some money in their pockets, because when we do that, everybody does better."

After a smaller, high-dollar event in San Antonio, Obama traveled north to Austin, where he delivered similar remarks to another crowd of more than 1,000 at the downtown Austin Music Hall.

Though fundraising totals for the day haven't been reported, the Obama campaign had previously estimated that it would bring in $3.5 million from the Texas stops, exceeding the record $2 million the president collected in May 2011 during fundraising visits to El Paso and Austin.

The Romney campaign dismissed the president's attacks, saying the president has failed to revive the nation's economy. Obama's visit also drew the expected slams from the state's Republican officials. 

Gov. Rick Perry used the occasion to hit the Obama administration over its opposition to the state's voter ID law, which U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently compared to a poll tax. "Perhaps while the president is visiting Texas, he can take a break from big-dollar fundraisers to disavow his attorney general's offensive and incendiary comments regarding our common-sense voter identification law," Perry said in a statement. "Eric Holder purposefully used language designed to inflame passions and incite racial tension. It was not only inappropriate, but simply incorrect on its face."

But Perry wasn't the only major Texas Republican at odds with Obama on Tuesday. As The New York Times notes, President George W. Bush was unveiling a new book on economic growth during Obama's visit, creating "an unusual and unintentional back-and-forth between the country’s current and past leader."

Culled:

  • Ted Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst squared off Tuesday night in their last televised debate before the July 31 U.S. Senate runoff. While the fiery debate featured sparring over ethics, immigration and taxes, the event was largely overshadowed by former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert's endorsement of Dewhurst after the debate, as the Tribune's Aman Batheja reports. Leppert said he had met with both candidates after the primary and determined that Dewhurst's business background made him more qualified for the Senate seat. "You can’t pick up a budget for the first time and expect that you’re going to address spending," said Leppert, who finished third in the May 29 primary. "The lieutenant governor has dealt with budgets on the public side and the private side. That’s what you need." 
  • The debate over Mitt Romney's tax returns reached Texas on Tuesday, with U.S. Rep. Ron Paul urging the Republican nominee to disclose more financial information and Rick Perry deflecting questions on the matter. "Politically, I think that would help him," Paul told Politico, adding, "It looks like releasing tax returns is what the people want." Meanwhile, Perry, asked at a press conference about the returns, said political candidates should be "as transparent as you can be with your tax returns and other aspects of your life" but stopped short of saying Romney should furnish more information, as the Tribune's Jay Root reports. Perry instead said President Obama should make his college transcripts available to the public. "I certainly think it is inappropriate for the president of the United States to not [make] his college transcript and his law school transcripts public, that he should make those available," he said. "I’m all about transparency."
  • A report released Tuesday by the State Budget Crisis Task Force named Texas among the states likely to struggle providing health care, education and other crucial services in the future because of rising costs and inadequate funding structures. In addition to Texas, the report focused on California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Virginia, noting that all have recently relied on accounting gimmicks to balance their budgets. 

"The next four months, you guys won’t see [ads], because, you know, you’re not considered one of the battleground states, although that’s going to be changing soon." — President Obama to a crowd of supporters at his San Antonio fundraiser on Tuesday

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