In Conference Call, Obama Urges Texas Democrats to Vote

President Obama on Monday urged Democratic voters to turn out on Election Day for Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte, the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, warning in a conference call that voter apathy would ensure Republicans retain control in Texas.

President Obama talked about the U.S. economy in a speech on July 10, 2014, at the Paramount Theatre in Austin.

*Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

President Obama on Monday urged Texas Democratic voters to turn out on Election Day for Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte, the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, warning in a conference call that voter apathy would ensure Republicans retain control in the state. 

“Tomorrow voters head to the polls. They’ve got a chance to make their voices heard on jobs, and education and quality health care and all these issues,” Obama said on the morning telephone call, according to a recording that was obtained by The Texas Tribune.

Saying Republicans were “in it for themselves,” Obama told those listening in that Democrats had the power to effect change — but only if they abandon their traditional apathy and turn out to vote.

“I hope these things get you fired up. You should be fired up,” he said. “But being fired up about it is not enough unless you go vote.”

The call was organized by Battleground Texas, the liberal turnout group started by former Obama campaign operatives. Erica Sackin, a spokeswoman for the group, confirmed that participants included both Davis and Van de Putte, former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston,  and U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio.  

Sackin said the message was aimed at voters who had not yet gone to the polls.

Democrats are bracing for yet another Republican sweep. Polls show all the statewide Republicans comfortably ahead, and figures from the secretary of state’s office show turnout during the two weeks of early voting was down from the last gubernatorial election in 2010.

Obama named the two top Democrats on the statewide ballot, calling them "courageous women" who would fight education cuts, favor a higher minimum wage and push for equal pay laws.

Early in the governor's race, Davis seemed to distance herself from Obama, but toward the end she said she would be "thrilled" to have him or other big-name Democrats campaign for her in Texas.

Matt Hirsch, a spokesman for Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott, said the call demonstrates that Davis would use the Obama administration as her model in the Texas governor's office.

"In the final hours of the election, President Obama is going all in for Sen. Davis, making a personal appeal to push their shared agenda of bigger government, more regulations, higher taxes and fewer jobs. Sen. Davis is confirming what we’ve known all along – that if elected governor she would make the next four years in Texas look like the last six years under President Obama," Hirsch said.

During the call, Obama exhorted voters who dialed in to gather up their friends and family and get to the polls.

“The reason that your priorities are not addressed is because it is just a given, it is just assumed, that a whole lot of Democratic voters do not vote, and of course Texas Republicans are doing everything they can to ensure that continues,” the president said.

"We just sort of assume that we don’t have control over this situation," he added. "We’ve got complete control over this situation, but it requires us changing habits that are entrenched and ingrained, where we just give away the rights that are bestowed upon us and fought for by generations, and we’ve got to rethink that. And it may take one or two or three or four election cycles before we change those habits but it’s not going to change at all if we don’t start now.”