Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a vocal critic of Obama’s handling of the crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border, declined an official White House invitation to meet the president when he lands in Austin, saying he would like a more “substantive meeting.”
“I appreciate the offer to greet you at Austin-Bergstrom Airport,” Perry wrote in a letter to Obama published by the Austin American-Statesman, “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.”
The president is scheduled to attend Democratic fundraisers in the Lone Star State on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“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,” the Republican governor wrote. “With the appropriate notice, I am willing to change my schedule to facilitate this request.”
In response, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett invited Perry to a roundtable discussion on the border situation.
“The president would welcome a meeting with you while he is in Texas,” Jarrett wrote in a letter to Perry, published by Politico.
A spokesman for the governor’s office told ABC that Perry had accepted the offer and will meet with the president in Dallas on Wednesday.cIn an interview with ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, Perry said the Obama administration has ignored his repeated calls for help to resolve the border situation.
“For over two years, we’ve drawn the attention of this issue to this administration,” Perry said. “As a matter of fact, in May of 2012, we sent a letter, laid out what was happening with the unaccompanied minors that were showing up at the border. And we told them, we said, ‘If you do not address this, here is what’s going to happen.’ And we’re seeing that become reality today. This is a failure of diplomacy. It is a failure of leadership.”
Perry added: “I don’t believe he particularly cares whether or not the border of the United States is secure.”
It’s not the first time that the governor of a border state has clashed with Obama during a presidential visit. In January 2012, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer confronted Obama on the tarmac in Phoenix shortly after he stepped off Air Force One. A heated exchange ensued that included her pointing her finger at the president. The incident was captured by photographers and detailed by Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown in her pool report.
Brewer, Brown wrote, “reiterated an invitation that I’ve extended to [Obama] before with regards to coming to Arizona and going to the border with me.”