DALLAS — It was an awkward circumstance to begin with, but both men were not taking themselves too seriously.
In December 2014, Gov. Greg Abbott made a trip to the White House just after launching a legal challenge to President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration. Abbott was meeting with Obama in the Oval Office as part of a group of newly elected governors, and both men were in a mood for humor, as Abbott would later recall.
Abbott told Obama he was “causing me a hard time back home” — not politically, but because Abbott’s daughter, after seeing Obama’s speech at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, thought he was funnier than her dad.
When Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo thanked Obama for campaigning for her, Abbott interjected: “What?! You didn’t come to Texas to campaign?” When Obama suggested it probably would not have helped, Abbott replied with another quip: “Oh, Mr. President. ... It would have helped.”
And then as the meeting wound down, in Abbott’s telling, Obama rose from his chair, “put his hand on my arm again and, with that same wry smile we’ve all seen on TV, asked a question.”
“So ... Greg ... Can I get you to drop that lawsuit?” the president asked, according to Abbott.
The scene is one of several in Abbott’s new book, “Broken But Unbowed,” which was available for purchase for the first time Thursday morning here at the Texas GOP convention. The book is a largely noncontroversial outing, recalling the accident that paralyzed Abbott for life, his battles with Washington as attorney general and later as governor and his recent push for a convention of states to amend the Constitution.
“On January 20, 2015, I was sworn in as the governor of the second-largest state in America,” Abbott writes. “Thirty years earlier, I lay in a hospital bed with a broken back.”
“I am living proof that we live in a country where a young man’s life can literally be broken in half and yet he can still rise up and become governor of his state and have a great family.”
Toward the end of the book, Abbott fires back at critics who say amending the Constitution runs contrary to the beliefs of its authors. Abbott argues that the Founders wanted the document to be amended — which is why their plan “included the Article V process I’m calling for.”
“At heart, liberals love to amend the Constitution,” Abbott writes. “They just prefer doing it the modern way by using liberal judges to do the work rather than citizens using the Article V process intended by the Founders.”
Abbott’s tome is light on politics. He briefly mentions the presidential race during his argument for a conservative jurist to replace Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.
“If the four liberal justices on the Court are joined by a like-minded jurist who fills Scalia’s seat, the keys to the congressional vault will be handed to the president,” Abbott writes.
The book also features a brief reflection on his landslide victory in the 2014 governor’s race against then-state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, whom he calls a “darling of the liberal left.”
“She filibustered a Texas abortion law designed to protect the unborn, and the safety of women who have abortions,” Abbott writes. “It turned out the filibuster was for naught, because the bill passed the day after Davis’s stunt.”
“In the end, though, the hopes of liberals across the country to turn Texas blue were dashed when I was elected on November 4, 2014, by a twenty-point margin,” Abbott adds.
Abbott is scheduled to speak later Thursday morning at the convention. He is launching a bus tour of Texas next week to promote the book.