White House invites Perry to meeting in Texas

(USA TODAY) - Aides to President Obama and a frequent antagonist -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry -- are talking about a possible meeting on border problems when Obama visits the Lone Star State later this week.

As Perry said he wants "a substantive meeting" rather than a "quick handshake" at the airport, White House senior adviser adviser Valerie Jarrett sent the governor a letter late Monday saying "the president would welcome a meeting with you" while he is in Texas on Wednesday and Thursday morning.

"In addition, he (Obama) asked me to invite you to join him for a meeting to discuss the situation on the border with faith leaders and local elected officials in Dallas on Wednesday," Jarrett wrote to Perry.

Obama will be in Dallas and Austin this week on a trip that includes campaign fundraisers as well as an economic speech and at least one event devoted to border issues.

Many people -- including Perry, but also some Democrats -- have criticized Obama for not visiting the border on the trip. The government is dealing with a surge of illegal crossings by migrants from Central America.

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, told Fox News that "I hope this doesn't become the Katrina moment for President Obama, saying that he doesn't need to come to the border. He should come down."

White House officials said many top aides to Obama have been to the border, and made detailed reports on the problems there.

"The President is well aware of what's happening along the southwest border," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. "And that is why you've seen the wide range of steps from the authority the President already has to enforce the law."

In her letter to Perry, Jarrett wrote that, "as you know, the administration continues to address this urgent humanitarian situation with a whole-of-government response on both sides of the border."

Perry had written Obama earlier in the day saying that "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. 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."

Perry unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, and may try again in 2016.

From the Austin American-Statesman:

"Perry has been harshly critical of the president on what he contends is the administration's failure to seal the border or anticipate the growing tide of new arrivals, most of them children from Central America.

"'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, charging the president was either 'inept' or had an 'ulterior motive' in failing to secure the border."



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