Texas Gov. Rick Perry "turned down our invitation to meet" President Barack Obama in El Paso.
Jay Carney, White House press secretary, in a press gaggle aboard Air Force One.
Asked why President Barack Obama didn't meet with Texas Gov. Rick Perry during his one-day trip to Texas this week, White House press secretary Jay Carney said: "Gov. Perry turned down our invitation to meet the president at the airport."
Obama spokesman Adam Abrams later told us that Carney was referring to the airport in El Paso, where Obama ventured before flying to Austin for political fundraisers.
Did Perry refuse to greet Obama in El Paso?
In an interview, Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed confirmed that on Tuesday, the governor declined an offer from the White House to greet the president in El Paso. "It would have been a 10-minute greeting," she said.
However, Nashed said, "we did ask them if we could meet and greet the president later in Austin or if the president would be interested in" taking a flying tour of wildfires that have hurt rural Texas. "Unfortunately, we couldn't arrange anything," Nashed said.
We asked how the governor passed the hours he could have spent journeying to and from El Paso, about 575 miles from Austin. Nashed, forwarding Perry's state schedule for that day, said he joined Jay Kimbrough, his former chief of staff and a favorite troubleshooter, in marking the anniversary of the severe wound Kimbrough endured as a Marine machine gunner in Vietnam in 1967. The two lunched in East Texas, she said, and joined a motorcycle ride to a veterans museum in Huntsville.
On May 12, as noted by the Dallas Morning News, Perry told interviewer Laura Ingraham that he didn't have time to fly to El Paso for a handshake. The newspaper said Perry told Ingraham, "If he wanted to meet, I was in Austin. I would have been here."
The White House did not comment on Perry's professed offer to meet in Austin, though e-mails between Perry's office and the White House confirm that Perry was invited to greet the president in El Paso and that a gubernatorial aide asked if it was "an option" for Perry to greet Obama in Austin "since we are here." A White House aide replied: "Unfortunately there won't be a tarmac greet in Austin."
Perry declined to howdy the president in El Paso, but an alternative meeting prospect was floated. We rate Carney's statement Mostly True.
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