Rick Perry to President Obama: No handshake
Texas Gov. Rick Perry declined an official White House offer to greet President Barack Obama when he lands at Austin’s airport Wednesday.
The Republican governor, who has repeatedly criticized Obama for his handling of the crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border, wrote the president and asked for a more “substantive meeting.”
“I appreciate the offer to greet you at Austin-Bergstrom Airport, but a quick handshake on the tarmac will not allow for a thoughtful discussion regarding the humanitarian and national security crises enveloping the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas,” Perry wrote in a letter on Monday to the president, according to the Austin American-Statesman. “I would instead offer to meet with you at any time during your visit to Texas for a substantive meeting to discuss this critical issue. With the appropriate notice, I am willing to change my schedule to facilitate this request.”
Obama will be in Texas for two days, primarily to attend private Democratic fundraisers in Dallas and Austin. On Monday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest downplayed criticism that Obama would be raising money rather than visiting the border during his visit, saying that the president isn’t worried about the “optics” of his visit.
The American-Statesman later reported that White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett responded to Perry, inviting the governor to a roundtable discussion on the border situation with local officials and faith leaders.
“The president would welcome a meeting with you while he is in Texas,” Jarrett wrote in a letter to Perry. She also reiterated the Obama administration’s commitment to addressing the “urgent humanitarian situation” along the border.
The Texas governor, a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, has exchanged barbs with the White House over the recent influx of children trying to enter the U.S. illegally along the border. Perry has been increasingly critical of the president, most recently on Sunday saying Obama isn’t personally invested in solving the issue.
“I don’t believe he particularly cares whether or not the border of the United States is secure,” Perry said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
Last week, Earnest said Perry is “playing politics” in his criticism of Obama and that the governor should instead work to support comprehensive immigration reform.
“The reason that some people are suggesting the president should go to the border in Texas is because they’d rather play politics than try to address some of these challenges,” Earnest said.