Obama heads to Texas to talk volunteerism

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramOctober 16, 2009 

AUSTIN -- President Barack Obama will return to Texas today for the first time since taking office nine months ago, sharing the stage with former President George H.W. Bush in a forum designed to "engage the nation" in a renewed conversation on volunteerism.

The 4 p.m. event at Texas A&M University in College Station, the home of Bush's presidential library, will pay tribute to the former president's 20-year-old Points of Light initiative as well as Obama's United We Serve campaign to perpetuate and expand community service.

But the altruistic theme of today's event won't submerge the political implications of Obama's brief foray into red-state Texas.

Although the former Democratic senator from Illinois failed to carry Texas in his 2008 presidential victory -- Republican John McCain won the Lone Star State with 55 percent of the vote -- Democrats believe they are within striking distance of resurgence after years of losses to Republicans.

The Democratic National Committee, in its first meeting in Texas in more than three decades, gathered in Austin last month to show solidarity with Texas Democrats. DNC Chairman Tim Kaine, governor of Virginia, said Texas Democrats have shown a "tremendous acceleration" in recent elections and are poised for further gains in 2010 and 2012.

Organizing for America, the successor to Obama for America, the nationwide grassroots organization that helped propel Obama's presidential victory, also has a strong presence in Texas.

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