Gov. Greg Abbott urges other governors to defy Obama on Iran sanctions

SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson talks about whether Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urging other governors to defy President Obama on Iran sanctions is a move to position himself for a run for president.

By Brandi Grissom

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott is urging all other governors to follow his lead in defying the Obama administration’s request to lift state restrictions on investment in Iran.

Despite persistent denials that he is positioning himself to run for national office, Abbott on Tuesday again waded deeply into national and foreign political issues, writing a letter to all state governors urging them to repudiate the Iran deal. The letter comes the same day Abbott met in Dallas with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer. 

The latest political move comes on the heels of Abbott’s statewide tour promoting his new book, Broken But Unbowed, and amid increasing questions about whether Abbott is already posturing for a potential presidential bid.

“Everything he’s doing is consonant with building a national profile that might one day permit him to run for president of the United States,” said Cal Jillson, political science professor at Southern Methodist University. “But that’s not the only reason to be doing this.” . . . 

Jillson said it’s unclear what, if any, impact Abbott’s letter to other governors might have on those states or on keeping the pressure on Iran.

“The cumulative impact of state-level sanctions on Iran would be vanishingly small in the grand scheme of things,” Jillson said. “Many states are simply going to ignore this letter.”

So why would the governor bother? Because such moves not only keep him in the national political spotlight, but they also burnish his conservative bona fides as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick continues to place himself squarely in the center of a national debate over which bathroom transgender people use. In fact, Abbott’s letter came just hours after Patrick’s most recent news conference on the hot-button issue.

“He certainly does keep a close eye on Dan Patrick, and his foremost political goal is ensure that Dan Patrick doesn’t get to his right in the minds of the Republican primary electorate in Texas,” Jillson said.

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