President Barack Obama's Trip to Texas

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I think it's probably about that time in the campaign season, just before you hit the August beat down that activists in Texas tend to have, where we tap the brakes twice, take three breaths, and get ready to take a step forward.  

A great many activists have expressed disappointment because our Democratic Candidate for Texas Governor, Bill White, will not appear with Democratic President Barack Obama. The President — for who I donated, block walked, phone banked and voted for — appears to be swooping in for the traditional hand in the cash register moment that happens every election cycle, so often that Texas Democrats have come to be immune to these sort of fundraisers.

I don't blame Bill White a bit for not going; this is not only smart political strategy, its smart personally, too. I want to explain why – and then also give others the chance to weigh in with their thoughts, because as I discovered bringing this up just among other BOR writers, there are lots of ways of thinking about this trip.

The fact is that right now President Obama is unpopular for most southern Democratic candidates, both incumbent and challenger, due to his sagging popularity nationally. We love our President and we support him, but he sure ain't helping our cause right now politically. That's not our fault, and it's not really the President's, either. He has – in the words of one speaker from Netroots – stood up and offered to drive the Titanic after it hit the iceberg. A great many of us have done plenty to help in any capacity we can and we continue to do so today.

But politically speaking, the best way we keep championing the policies and priorities of our party is to avoid visits that drive a wedge into state-focused races. That's true in some other states, but is especially true of Texas where the President is even less popular. Given those political realities, Bill White made the only move he could make. His is not a campaign about Washington; his is a campaign about Texas and its future. Bill White said those words at our state convention in Corpus Christi. Don't you remember? Nothing has changed; this IS the campaign about Texas and its future. These DNC fundraisers are a convenient reminder to us all that we Texas Democrats operate a different political and party strategy than Washington does. That makes White's decision that much more impressive, if you ask me.

Personally speaking, we know by White's record, his public statements, the way he governs, and most certainly the way he leads, that Bill is simply a different type of Democrat than our friends at the DNC. We are Texas Democrats! And we think differently, strategize differently, message differently, organize differently, mobilize differently, and it's about time that our years of work get respected and appreciated. We Texas Democrats have worked to rebuild our Party here for quite some time without the DNC's help. Although we have struggled, a great many of us have the scars and memories of how hard it took for us to get here, and appreciate that we are in a position to make a serious run not just for the governorship, but the legislature as well. Bill White made the right move not only for himself, but for Texas Democrats.

If it were up to me, everyone would tap the brakes a bit here, take three very deep breaths, and get ready to take a step forward again. We've got a great deal of work ahead of ourselves. We have the hot August weather, the September blur, October sprint, and early November Red Bull and 5 Hour Energy moments ahead of ourselves. The sweetest moment of all won't come from a high-dollar fundraiser. It will come from the exuberant feeling we'll all have when Texas Democrats win with Bill White, when we win back the legislature, and when we remind the rest of the Democratic Party that we Texas Democrats know how to win too!


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  1. Good post
    To win, Bill White has to get the votes of people who disapprove of Obama. He is sending a signal to those voters – Obama and the Democrats are not on the ballot, I am. That's fine. Keep the focus on the state issues that the Governor will have to deal with.

    Personally, I would like to see some bold policy proposals. Haven't seen any of those. A dime increase in the gas tax combined with a commitment to make serious investments in transporation infrastructure? Commuters vote. Need to be bold to win – not crazy bold, but need to put a little flesh on the bones.

  2. White and Barack Obama
    Nice article, Todd, and though I respect your comments and know you are a person of principal, I really disagree with White distancing himself from the President.  

    First, I don't think it will work because — need I even say it — Rick Perry will say and do anything to link him to Obama no matter what White does, unless he confronts this issue head on.

    Second, I think Texans would be shocked and moved if White stood next to the President and said he was there to send a message that Texans are going to get every advantage there is from having a friend in the White House.  He could talk about the money  Rick Perry refused for Texans.  White could challenge slick Rick to come clean on how the feds have propped up the Texas economy, and we're still $18 billion in the hole.  What's more, if White said he was challenging Texans to stop buying the bull crap coming from Rick Perry about what a big bad socialist Obama is, when Perry's been forking over so much corporate welfare (socialism for the rich) it isn't even funny, and this is the real reason he won't debate him, maybe independent voters would start listening to White.  So far, he's far more disappointing to indies than Barack.  We're waiting Bill…seriously.  Linda Curtis, Independent Texans

    • I thank you for your comments too…
      I too know you to be a woman of great principle and so my remarks are in disagreement of your position only.  

      Sure, Rick Perry will say and do anything to link White to Obama, but does Obama have to hand it to Perry on a silver platter?  No, I don't think he does.  Confronting the issue head on will not serve White well given the political status of the President right now.

      That leads to my second point, that overwhelmingly independents are beginning to swing away from the President.  On the other hand, depending on which poll you break down regarding the TX Governor's race, you see that White has movement with independents–especially women.  He generally moves up in those categories, but other polls show different things.  

      It all boils down to all politics is local for me.  The Governor's race, and our legislative races, have a stronger affect on the future of Texas than President Obama right now.  White needs to run a campaign that is about Texas, not Washington.  He can best do that without interference from Washington.


      • Washington has less effect?
        Not in my world doesn't.

        I am proud to work with OFA here in Texas.

        I am proud to have helped pass the stimulus

        I am proud to have helped gotten health care reform passed.

        I am proud to have helped gotten financial reform passed.

        And I'm even prouder having proved many Texas Democrats around me wrong who told me health care reform wasn't worth being associated with politically.  Never mind that Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the nation.  I guess that was inconvenient for them.

        At the end of the day, I am not a Texas Democrat.  I am a Democrat.  And I stand proudly with President Obama, who gets things done.

        And if that is inconvenient for some, tough.

        I will not back down.

        I will stand for what I believe in

        and more importantly, work for it

          • Thanks Todd!
            I appreciate everything you do in the Metroplex!

            And y'all at BOR continue to do great stuff.

            I'm here everyday, you can count on that.

    • Important caviat
      That's the whole population, not registered voters or even likely voters.

      Still, not bad AND believable.

  3. Thanks for the post, Todd
    I think this is an important discussion to have, and it's not one with a clear answer. I agree with you that — for Bill White — staying focused on Texas is the most important thing. Perhaps if the President were visiting the state to have a policy conversation, it would be different.

    I'm also, though, of the opinion that President Obama is doing terrific work. I don't have the qualms, or lack of enthusiasm, that many Democrats have (or at least those who are responding to polls). I'm thrilled with the progress he's delivered — happy to fight for better solutions, but anyone not satisfied with their choice for President or the work of President Obama is taking a pretty short-sighted view of change.

  4. Bill White should continue with his Texas schedule
    Bill has to become known to all of Texas and that is what he is doing.  Obama did not carry Texas, Texans vote differently locally than they do nationally.  We know that all national politicians drag their sack through Texas for money and it is not necessary to be seen at all of the events – even if you could afford them.  We should focus on getting a majority of Democrats in the House and Senate, as well as Congress, and most of all state-wide offices.  Bill will do what his conscience tells him to do what is best for Texas.  Perry will use anything, if it's not true, make it up!

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