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The Brief: May 9, 2013

President Obama hopes to turn attention back to the economy during his visit to Austin today. But is something else behind his Texas trip?

President Obama at the University of Texas on Monday, August 9, 2010.

The Big Conversation

President Barack Obama hopes to turn attention back to the economy during his visit to Austin today. But is something else behind his Texas trip?

As the White House announced last week, Obama will swing through the state's capital today to kick off the first leg of his Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour.

After Gov. Rick Perry greets the president on the airport tarmac (as he did when Obama visited Austin in 2010), Obama will tour Manor New High School, whose innovative teaching techniques have gained widespread attention, and the Austin location of Applied Materials, a major high-tech manufacturing company.

The locations were chosen "to learn more about what's being done [in Austin] to create stable and well-paying jobs that can support a middle-class family," the White House said on Wednesday. Amid long-running fights in Washington over gun control, immigration and government spending, the administration likely hopes the tour will help put the spotlight back on Obama's efforts to improve the economy.

But as The Dallas Morning NewsWayne Slater writes today, the president may have chosen Texas for another reason that could have something to do with one of the administration's most visible critics these days: Texas' own Ted Cruz

"Cruz is the new face of opposition — Democrats say partisan obstruction — to Obama’s agenda," Slater writes of the junior U.S. senator, adding, "By coming to Texas, the president wants to frame the two poles of our broken policy debate this way: Obama’s White House (compromise) vs. Cruz-type Republicans (obstruction)."

"Having failed at the inside game of getting big legislative deals in Congress, Obama’s engaged in the outside game of applying pressure. He comes to Texas to look like the man with a plan."

Whatever the intent, Obama's itinerary will also be closely watched. Though the White House has only announced the two scheduled events, street closures suggest that an additional stop may be planned downtown.


•    Campus-carry bill has new life in Senate? (Austin American-Statesman): "Just two days after it had been declared virtually dead, a controversial House-passed bill move to allow concealed weapons in college and university buildings appeared to get new life Thursday in the Texas Senate. Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire, who earlier blocked a Senate version of the bill from passing out of his committee, confirmed that he now plans to give House Bill 972 a hearing if it is assigned to his committee."

•    A look at 2012 turnout by ethnicity in Texas (Texas Redistricting): "The Census Bureau is out with its eagerly awaited estimate of 2012 voter turnout by ethnicity. For 2012, the Bureau estimates that nationwide 64.1% of citizen voting age Anglos, 66.2% of African-Americans, 48% of Hispanics, and 47.3% of Asians voted in 2012. … The national trends also largely held for Texas — though in the case of Texas, Asians (42.4%) outvoted Hispanics (38.8%)."

•    House Backs Updating Rules on Political Ad Disclosures (The Texas Tribune): "A modernization of Texas’ political disclosure laws could be coming, as the House on Wednesday tentatively approved a bill that would strengthen the state's rules on disclosures for political advertisements on radio and television, and add requirements for political ads on social media websites."

Quote of the Day: "It should be no surprise that if folks want to go home at the end of this legislative session, send me $1.8 billion worth of tax relief, send me a balanced budget that has no fee increases for transportation and $2 billion of infrastructure for water, and everybody can go home and enjoy their summer." — Gov. Rick Perry to reporters on Wednesday


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