President Obama's Quick Trip to Dallas

President makes three stops during whirlwind visit to Austin, Dallas

By Eric Kreindler
|  Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014  |  Updated 12:25 PM CDT
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President Barack Obama touched down just before 4 p.m. for his first trip to Dallas as president.

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Obama's Whirlwind Visit to the Lone Star State

President Barack Obama talked policy and raised money during his brief trip to Texas.
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President Barack Obama made his first trip as president to Dallas on Monday for a fundraiser for Senate Democrats.

Obama, who was only in the Lone Star State for about six hours, also talked education in Austin before his brief stop in North Texas.

Air Force One touched down at Love Field at 3:53 p.m., 17 minutes early, and the president stepped onto the tarmac -- and to 98-degree weather -- minutes later.

The president headlined a fundraiser at the Highland Park home of lawyer Russell Budd.

There were no public events planned, so North Texans could only catch a glimpse of the presidential motorcade during rush hour.

Bill White, the Democratic nominee for Texas governor, was in North Texas on Monday but did not attend the president's fundraiser. Instead, White campaigned in Alvarado.

A campaign spokesperson said White wanted to spend time meeting with Texas voters. A White House spokesperson said Obama was not offended by White's decision to skip the Dallas fundraiser.

Political watchers say Obama's low approval rating in Texas could be a liability for White.

More than 600 people gathered at a rally organized by the Dallas Republican Party near the Democratic fundraiser.

"We don't agree with the polices you're trying to force in Washington. We don't agree with the health care plan. We don't agree with more bailouts," Jonathan Nerman said.

Earlier in Obama's visit to Texas, he raised up to $1 million for the Democratic National Committee at an Austin hotel. He raised about $650,000 at the Dallas fundraiser.

Gov. Rick Perry greeted the president on the tarmac when Obama landed in Austin. Perry also hand-delivered a letter warning about the "dire threat" from drug violence along the U.S.-Mexico border to a presidential adviser.

The president also gave an education speech at the University of Texas at Austin campus, where he spoke about the importance of a college education.

"We also know that in the coming decades, a high school diploma isn't going to be enough," he said.

Obama outlined his college agenda, largely a recitation of steps already taken, to a crowd in which the screams of students prompted him to raise his voice even louder.

Holding the official event along with his political appearances means the White House could bill taxpayers for most of the costs of the trip.

The White House said the invitation-only audience was made up largely of UT-Austin students, as well as some from Austin Community College.

"I think it's wonderful that Obama's here. I love the fact that in Austin he's doing a public appearance; that's great for the people down there, so I think the party is very pleased that he's chosen to spend the day here," said Mike Ogulnick, regional communications director for the Texas Democratic Party.

The fundraising stops were part of Obama's August offensive, a string of tactical, time-gobbling campaign stops to raise a bunch of money and revitalize Democratic voters. The traditional result of approaching midterm elections is that the party of the sitting president loses seats.

NBC DFW's Kevin Cokely and Omar Villafranca contributed to this report.

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