Abbott to appear with American Airlines CEO

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by JAY ROOT & AMAN BETHEJA

The Texas Tribune

Posted on October 1, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 1 at 2:58 PM

Attorney General Greg Abbott is scheduled to hold a news conference with American Airlines CEO Tom Horton on Tuesday afternoon, prompting speculation that Abbott is adjusting his opposition to the Fort Worth-based airline's merger with US Airways. 
 
Abbott, who is running for governor, has drawn criticism from business groups and political opponents for his decision to join with the U.S. Justice Department in fighting the merger. The attorney general's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment ahead of the news conference.  
 
American Airlines and North Texas leaders have insisted that the merger is critical to the survival of American Airlines, a major North Texas employer. Abbott has defended the lawsuit, arguing that the merger would reduce competition in the airline industry and lead to higher ticket prices and reduced service. Abbott's decision to appear publicly with Horton suggests some change in the AG's position. One option could be a settlement that allows both sides to frame the outcome as a win. 
 
State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, who is expected to launch her own campaign for governor this week, has also been vocal of her support for the merger for weeks. 
 
"That was the wrong call," Davis said of opposition to the merger during a keynote discussion at the Texas Tribune Festival on Sunday. 
 
Abbott's best-known Republican challenger, former GOP state chairman Tom Pauken, has also expressed support for the merger and criticized Abbott for joining a lawsuit with the Obama administration. Pauken said Tuesday he was no "mind reader" but predicted the attorney general would change his position on the merger. 
 
"He's put himself in such a corner that it will be interesting to see how he justifies changing positions," Pauken said. "He probably did some polling and saw it was hurting him among conservatives and rank-and-file Republicans. He's trying to cut his losses earlier rather than later." 
 
Also Tuesday, the Department of Justice asked a judge to temporarily halt the antitrust case against American Airlines and US Airways because of the government shutdown. 
 

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune here

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