AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Democrat Wendy Davis said Wednesday she would welcome President Barack Obama campaigning for her in Texas after largely keeping distance from him throughout her underdog run for governor.
Still trailing by double digits in some polls with less than two weeks until Election Day, Davis is no longer so cautiously staying at arm's length from Obama, who has gloomy approval ratings in Texas but still packs the ability to boost turnout among Democratic voters.
First lady Michelle Obama recorded a radio ad for Davis that began airing this month.
"I would be thrilled if he or the Clintons, anyone wanted to come and help," Davis said about Obama while speaking to reporters at Democratic headquarters in Austin. "I'm very honored to have their support and the support of so many prominent Democrats across this country. We are fighting for people in our state."
Davis said she hasn't invited Obama — and there is no indication he will join the Fort Worth state senator on the trail between now and Nov. 4. Obama plans to rally for a half-dozen Democratic gubernatorial candidates, including next week in Wisconsin, where Mary Burke is going down to the wire against Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Davis hasn't been able to get as close to Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, who campaigned in San Antonio on Wednesday with actor Chuck Norris and energized conservatives with a speech heavy on aligning Davis with the White House.
"My opponent has embraced the Barack Obama, big-government liberalism that has hijacked states like California and Massachusetts, and now they're trying to impose on Texas," Abbott said.
Despite impressive fundraising across the U.S. and a national profile, Davis has resisted being too closely aligned with Obama many times throughout her campaign. During their first televised debate last month, Davis wouldn't answer Abbott when he directly asked her whether she regretted her vote for Obama.
Davis denied that her stance toward Obama has shifted with time running out in the race. She said she was thrilled to meet with him in April when Obama visited Austin for an event honoring the 50th anniversary of the landmark Civil Rights Act.
Davis said they discussed the "discriminatory intent" behind voter ID laws like the one in Texas that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed to remain in place. Abbott's office defended the law.
"I've never backed away from President Obama," Davis said.
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