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Did Those 15 Minutes of Air Time Between Obama and Perry Accomplish Anything? (No.)

Air Force One, which the president parked at DFW yesterday before flying a helicopter with Gov. Perry to Love Field. We wonder how much that political compromise cost?
Air Force One, which the president parked at DFW yesterday before flying a helicopter with Gov. Perry to Love Field. We wonder how much that political compromise cost?

President Obama and Governor Perry have been facing weeks of political tension regarding the recent surge in unaccompanied immigrant children fleeing central America and arriving at the Texas border. Although Dallas has made headlines in its promise to shelter many of these kids, it's an issue that has been attracting national concern: Perry sent an open letter to President Obama criticizing his border policies. Obama, meanwhile, is seeking more than $3.7 billion in emergency funds from Congress to deal with the crisis, and taking political fire for not visiting the border himself.

Obama traveled Texas this week to attend fundraisers in Denver, Dallas and Austin. He flew to DFW airport before taking a 15-minute helicopter ride from DFW to Love Field. During those 15 minutes, Perry accompanied Obama on the helicopter to fulfill the meeting that Perry had requested.

Perry had, earlier this week, requested a private meeting with Obama. Obama had replied suggesting that the governor simply meet with Obama at the Austin airport for a quick handshake, and presumably a photo op, on the tarmac.

Perry then sent an open letter on Monday to President Obama criticizing his offer, saying it would allow time for a "thoughtful" discussion on the border situation. The two mended their quarrel when the White House compromised by calling for a Dallas meeting to discuss the border situation with Perry, Dallas officials, and local faith leaders. Perry, meanwhile, got his alone time with the president in a short helicopter ride.

The longer Dallas meeting, post-helicopter flight, was scrambled together last minute by Obama staffers, keen to avoid the political damage that was being caused by what some were calling Obama's "Katrina moment." The comment was first voiced by a fellow Democrat, Representative Henry Cuellar of Laredo, who compared Obama's seeming ambivalence in visiting the border to President Bush's infamous 2005 flyover of Hurricane Katrina damage to New Orleans.

The 15-minute meeting between Obama and Perry was at least cordial. Perry shared his worries about the current border situation with the President. Obama, in return, asked Perry for his support in requesting the $3.7 billion from Congress.

"The bottom line is there's nothing the governor indicated he'd like to see that I have a philosophical objection to," Obama said yesterday, calling the fleeting meeting a "good exchange of ideas." "If the Texas delegation is prepared to move, this thing can get done next week," he said.

Sounds simple enough, right? Oh. Wait.


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