Texas Governor Greg Abbott pledges to do what he claims the “Biden administration refuses to do” in border security.
Taking a step forward this week, the two-term Republican governor will visit the U.S.-Mexican border with former President Trump as he pledges to continue building a border wall.
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Wednesday’s meeting with Trump along the border, which will likely be widely covered from coast to coast, comes after Abbott also signed bills in recent weeks restricting the teaching of critical theory from race in his state and allowing Texas to carry guns without a license.
It also comes two weeks before the state legislature – by order of the governor – returns for a special session to pass legislation tightening up voting rules, another GOP priority.
Abbott was arguably overshadowed earlier this year by fellow Conservative Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida as leader of the Republican Resistance in GOP-controlled states against President Biden and his Democratic administration.
But in recent weeks, Abbott has become a thorn in the side of the new president – all while gearing up for a 2022 candidacy for a third term in Texas, with a possible 2024 GOP presidential race looming in the distance. .
“We have seen so many people crossing the border harming Texans and as governor I cannot allow my fellow Texans to be harmed or put in danger,” Abbott said two weeks ago in an interview. on Fox News’ “Hannity”.
And he promised, “We’re going to arrest people and put them in jail for a long time so they know they won’t get the Biden red carpet treatment again.” “
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Abbott earlier this month announced measures to stem the flow of migrants illegally crossing the border to Texas – including temporary fencing along the border as it pledges to complete construction of the border wall that has begun under President Trump, but discontinued at the start of the Biden presidency.
The governor also strengthens the presence of state police at the border and arrests and jails those caught in the act of trespassing on private property.
“Texas is going to do what the Biden administration refuses to do. Texas will step up and secure our border. We will use all the tools available to us under the law. And we’ll make sure we build the wall, stop the people and make Texas safe, and send a message to Washington DC ‘stand up and do your job,’ ”Abbott told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
Abbott’s longtime political adviser David Carney told Fox News that the “conceptual part” of the trip with Trump to the border “has been in the works for months.” Carney said Trump “wanted to come and see firsthand what was going on and what the governor’s plans were, and the governor invited him.”
“The president will be receiving a briefing from the governor and his senior homeland security officials,” Carney explained, adding that the two men – as well as some members of the House GOP – “will travel part of the border along the wall where the president’s policies were built. and where the Biden administration abruptly ended it on January 20. “
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Austin-based Republican strategist Brendan Steinhauser has pointed out that acting for border security “in Texas, especially among Republicans but even among independents, is a very wise thing to do. Recognize the crisis, talk about it, have solutions. “
“Voters in Texas care a lot about the border,” he said. “They support border security. Many Hispanic Texans who live in the Rio Grande Valley along the border and who are swing voters support border security. “
Abbott’s multiple moves in recent weeks have taken him back to his political roots by attacking a Democratic White House in Washington, when as Attorney General of Texas he filed numerous lawsuits against President Obama’s administration. of the time.
Abbott’s actions also precede his 2022 reelection bid. But Carney said campaign politics was not a motivating factor behind the whirlwind of activity.
“This is partly related to the timing. The legislative session just ended and in June he had 20 days to sign or veto the legislation. A lot of the things that grabbed attention were things he had been working on from his State of State address and since the start of the session. They just haven’t garnered national attention, ”Carney said.
Some Texas Republicans say Abbott’s muscular moves are an effort to protect his right flank, after coming under heavy inbound fire last year from angry Texas conservatives over his mask mandates and COVID-19 restrictions on business. And the governor was also sounded earlier this year for the state’s handling of a deadly winter storm, which sparked a power grid collapse that left millions of Texans frozen amid unusually freezing temperatures.
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Abbott already faces a major challenge from the right wing of former State Senator Don Huffines. And outgoing GOP President Allen West – a controversial and outspoken former congressman from Florida – is also publicly considering an offer against Abbott.
“We’re not focusing on all the gossip,” Carney insisted. “We are 100% convinced that we know where the Republican primary voters are. We are not at all worried about the primary. It’s silly season in Texas because the session is over and a lot of people have a lot of dreams. “
While the governor and his advisers stress that the policy has nothing to do with stepping up actions at the border, Trump’s visit – who has already approved Abbott’s re-election – will only elevate the governor’s stature. among conservatives eager to retaliate against the Biden Administration.
Bill Pozzi, the Republican chairman of Ruby Red County of Victoria, told Fox News that “people were really complaining about the governor three to six months ago, with the COVID situation. Now he redeemed himself on this three-legged stool to build the wall, constitutional bear and the right to vote. These three things are very important to the average base Republican voter at least in my riding. “
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And Steinhauser pointed out that by focusing on border security and other issues important to the Conservatives, Abbott is helping secure his re-election.
“Part of why Abbott is going to win hands down is because of everything he does -om the borderline to falling with the former president on Wednesday to what he did in the legislative session.” , he stressed.
Photos of Abbott and Trump together at the border this week will spark further speculation about Abbott’s potential national ambitions in 2024. Abbott’s two predecessors as governor of Texas have both run for the White House – George W. Bush twice successfully and Rick Perry twice without success.
“I think it gives him more of a national profile and allows people to watch him,” Steinhauser said.
He said that while DeSantis of Florida, a potential 2024 GOP presidential candidate, has drawn a lot of attention for his step back against the Biden administration over COVID-19 restrictions and the economy, “Abbott is in an excellent position to be seen as a leader on the issue of “border security.”
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But Carney stressed that when it comes to a possible White House race, “the governor has never discussed it one way or another” and that “it is not a priority. , a discussion or a fantasy of the governor ”.
Carney proposed that if Abbott had 2024 in mind, “I’m sure we’d be in New Hampshire helping Chris Sununu do stuff, and we’d be in Iowa with Kim Reynolds doing stuff,” he said. pointed out the GOP governors of the two states who, for decades, dominated the presidential appointment schedule.