You want further evidence that KBH is looking to relocate to Austin in 2006? You got it.
Renewing debate over Texas' commitment to children's health care, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison criticized state government Tuesday for failing to spend millions of dollars in federal health care funds.
"We left 600 million in federal dollars on the table," Hutchison told Texas reporters.
"I got part of it back, and I think that we're hopefully now on the road to providing that coverage ... It's very important to cover these children and do it right."
More from the Morning News.
Subtle jockeying to be the Lone Star in Texas is being played out this week between possible contender U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is a co-chair of the Republican National Convention, and Gov. Rick Perry, who is heading the state delegation. Meanwhile, potential candidate Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn is a presence, even though she will miss the convention to remain at her desk in Austin.
"It's not even attempting to be a well-kept secret," delegate Norm Mason of Sugar Land said, particularly about the squabbling between Mrs. Strayhorn and Mr. Perry, whose low approval ratings have attracted possible challengers from his own party.
Mr. Mason said almost all those who attend national conventions are the door-knocking, vote-gathering and fund-raising volunteers who are essential to grass-roots campaigns. And these conventions are a good time for elected officials to raise their profile and extend their appreciation.
"Someone who uses these opportunities wisely gets the benefits that accrue," he said.
Mr. Perry is pleased with his popularity among the social conservatives who are at the heart of the Texas GOP.
"I was chosen by the grass roots to lead the Texas delegation, so there's a clear message about whom they wanted to lead them to New York for the convention," he said.
Ms. Hutchison told reporters Tuesday, "I am not thinking about 2006, and I don't think anyone else here is, either." But she questioned why the governor's office has challenged her over the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.
The senator said recently that she has been working to get millions of federal dollars left on the table that could have gone to help Texas children. Mr. Perry's office quickly rejoined that the dollars were left because Texas was late in joining CHIP – a problem that occurred during Mr. Bush's term as governor.
"I was not being critical," Ms. Hutchison said Tuesday. "I think the governor got a little trigger happy."
Then she invited members of the Texas media to join her as she dashed through the city, gave interviews to network news organizations and toured the Madison Square Garden stage, from which she spoke Tuesday night.
Mrs. Strayhorn said she would love to be in New York to cheer on the president – and to visit with her youngest son, Scott McClellan, who is the president's press secretary.
"Unfortunately, I can't set aside my responsibilities as a public servant for my personal preference to be at the convention," she said.
As Gov. Rick Perry wrapped up a speech to the Texas GOP delegation, a chant broke out: "Four more years! Four more years!"
Delegate Pat Peale said the chant referred to both President Bush and Perry, whose re-election bid is two years away but who faces rumblings of a challenge from U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn.
Of the three, only Perry so far has said he'll seek the seat.
"We'll take both. We want our president to win. It would be wonderful for us to have Gov. Perry four more years," said Peale, of Gainesville.
But she said she'll face a hard decision if Hutchison challenges him.
"I have been very strongly supporting Sen. Hutchison in all of her races," Peale said. "If she throws her hat in, it's going to be a very difficult choice. But she hasn't at this point, so I certainly support our governor. And I think he's doing a good job."
Ray Myers of Forney, a former school principal attending the convention as a guest of a delegate, said of a potential Strayhorn-Perry match: "I think Strayhorn would beat him. ... The lady has broad appeal and crosses all tracks."
He added, "She struck gold when she came up with (the slogan) 'one tough grandma.'"
"All things being equal, I plan on running for re-election in 2006 and will certainly look at running for governor in 2010," Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said.
He said he supports Perry's effort to spend another term in the office he assumed after Bush became president. Perry was elected to a full four-year term in 2002.
"I believe the governor is going to run for re-election in 2006. I'm supporting Rick Perry for re-election," Dewhurst said.
Asked whether he expects Perry would support him in 2010, he said, "You'll have to ask him that question, but I would be surprised if he wouldn't."
As for a timetable for disclosing her 2006 plans, Hutchison said, "It's way too early."