True grit: A timeline of Gov. Greg Abbott’s arduous journey from Jackson Hole to Dallas

Good morning Austin:

I arrived in Cleveland yesterday, a week ahead of the start of the Republican National Convention, to cover meetings of the convention’s Platform and Rules Committees, which will have a lot to do with how the convention will proceed.

Sunrise in Cleveland
Sunrise in Cleveland


Cleveland is a handsome city. Glad to be here. But, of course, the nation’s eyes are on Texas, on Dallas. Remarkably, all five stories on the front page of Sunday’s New York Times were related to Thursday’s terrible event in Dallas.


Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.48.40 AM


On Tuesday, President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former President George W. Bush will all be at a memorial service for the slain officers in Dallas.

I imagine Gov. Greg Abbott will be there as well, but that may depend on what doctors at the Brooke Army Medical Center Burn Unit in San Antonio tell him today after inspecting the wounds he suffered when he was accidentally scalded with hot water Thursday while on holiday with his family in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, just before the shootings in Dallas.

I wrote about the governor’s very unfortunate experience, and how, with true grit, he set about getting to Dallas to join with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and other officials for a press conference that set a tone of unity and healing at a raw and painful moment in the history of Dallas, of Texas and of America.

Abbott spoke of unity.

“Today, on this day, and in the coming days, the primary message is one word, and that is unity.”

And he talked of healing, giving not the slightest indication of how his own ravaged body was, even as he spoke, struggling mightily to heal from fresh and grievous wounds.

I had more details that I could put in the story. And so here is a timeline of events based on my conversations with Abbott communications director Matt Hirsch and Abbott’s chief of staff, Daniel Hodge. I realize that it is more than you may need or want to know, but I thought it was all interesting and since I had the information, I figured I would share it.


  • Gov. Abbott, his wife Cecilia, and daughter, Audrey, back home after her first year at the University of Southern California, travel to Jackson Hole, for a long weekend holiday.


  • Late afternoon. The Governor is burned when he is accidentally scalded by hot water at the lodge where he is staying. No details about exactly what happened. He suffers second- and third-degree burns on his legs below the knees, and especially his feet. He was supposed to be attending a Republican Governors Association event that night.
  • Governor driven to hospital by Texas Department of Public Safety. En route to hospital, Governor calls Deputy Chief of Staff Robert Allen back in Austin (aside from the troopers, no staff is with the governor in Jackson Hole) to tell him about incident and notifies he cannot attend RGA event.
  • Robert Allen calls Daniel Hodge, notifies that Governor is en route to hospital.
  • Governor calls Daniel Hodge from hospital; conversation takes place while doctors are removing burned skin from the Governor’s lower legs and feet.  7:20 pm
  • Daniel Hodge notifies Matt Hirsch.
  • Governor calls Daniel Hodge from hospital; relays initial plan for him to return to Texas on Sunday and receive treatment in San Antonio.
  • Governor calls Daniel Hodge in vehicle from hospital to confirm that he will return to Texas on Sunday; DH tells Governor to get some rest and indicates they won’t speak again until the morning.
  • Matt Hirsch working up statement on accident and how it may affect Gov.’s schedule for the next couple of weeks: Matt sends around draft statement at 9:30 pm
  • DPS Director Steve McCraw notifies Daniel Hodge about initial reports of shooting in Dallas.
  • Director McCraw notifies Daniel Hodge that there is at least one confirmed officer death in Dallas and one confirmed officer wounded in Dallas.
  • Daniel Hodge calls Governor to notify him about initial reports of incident in Dallas.
  • Director McCraw provides Daniel Hodge additional confirmed information about incident in Dallas.
  • Daniel Hodge calls Governor; Governor tells DH to make plans for return to Texas and visit to Dallas immediately. Governor instructs DH to set up meeting with Mayor Mike Rawlings and legislative delegation in Dallas. DH notes risk of infection and asks if he wants to consult with the doctors. Governor says that’s he is going to be in Dallas, that’s an order. Governor also tells DH that, after meeting with the Mayor, he wants to visit injured officers at the hospital before returning to Austin. DH: “Yes sir.”
  • Governor calls Director McCraw. 10:15 pm
  • Governor asks Daniel Hodge for Mayor Rawlings’ cell phone number and calls the Mayor. The Governor offers help and discusses with Mayor the need to show unity—but does not mention his injury. 11:05 pm
  • Governor instructs Daniel Hodge to have the Mansion lit blue on Friday night in honor of fallen officers. 11:15PM. Robert Allen, who is in charge of arrangements at the Mansion, has to find vendor who can make that happen. DH: “The governor wanted it done and it was our job to make it happen.”
  • Numerous subsequent calls between Governor and Daniel Hodge, as well as Robert Allen and Matt Hirsch well past midnight.
  • Daniel Hodge notifies Governor that senior staff will gather at 8:30 am to finalize plans for all the Governor’s directives in response to shooting in Dallas. While on the phone with the Governor, Daniel Hodge receives confirmation from scheduling that a charter flight has been secured. DH notifies Governor that a charter has been secured and can depart Jackson Hole at 11:30 am.



  • Press Secretary John Wittman purchase orthopedic shoes for Governor to wear at event in Dallas. 6:00 am. Because of the burns, the Governor could not wear boots or shoes, and he didn’t want to call attention to his condition. Apparently, no one at the press conference took any special notice of Abbott’s footwear.
  • White House calls Governor seeking to arrange call between Governor and President. DH passes along cell phone number for DPS body agent who will be with the Governor throughout the day. 6:30 am
  • Daniel Hodge sees advance team (John Wittman, Matt Sniadecki, Garrett Neeren) about to depart in the underground Capitol parking garage; holds impromptu meeting, confirms advance has secured orthopedic shoes to cover Governor’s bandaged feet—and two neckties (a choice of blue and red) for the Governor to wear in Dallas. The Governor had gone on holiday without any ties. 7:15 am
  • Daniel Hodge contacts First Lady to check on Governor, notifies her that President may call the Governor. 8:00 am
  • Robert Allen contacts Mayor Rawlings’ office to arrange meeting with Governor, Mayor, and Police Chief for later that day.
  • Robert Allen, Deputy Chief of Staff Reed Clay, Matt Hirsch convene in Daniel Hodge’s office to finalize game plan for the day. Matt Hirsch recommends open letter to Texans to be published in Dallas Morning News. Staff writes first draft. 8:30 am
  • Governor calls Daniel Hodge to get feedback on 8:30 am meeting, confirm that all directives are being implemented. DH, along with Robert Allen, Matt Hirsch, and Reed Clay brief Governor on game plan for the day. During call, Matt Hirsch recommends that Governor send open letter to all Texans regarding the tragic events in Dallas. Governor approves and asks to see draft of the letter.
  • DPS Detail transports Governor to hospital in Jackson Hole for treatment, dressing of wounds.
  • DPS Detail transports Governor to Jackson Hole airport. While en route to the airport, Governor reviews and approves open letter. 11:00 am MDT / 12:00 pm CDT
  • Governor, First Lady, and DPS Detail board charter flight Charter departs Jackson Hole, Wyoming. 11:45 am MDT / 12:45 pm CDT. Audrey Abbott remains in Jackson Hole along with a friend and the friend’s family.
  • Charter flight lands in Casper, Wyoming, to get a full load of fuel for flight to Dallas. Governor calls Daniel Hodge during fuel stop to get an update on events in Texas. DH informs Governor that Dallas officials indicated all officers had been released from the hospital and consequently there will be no hospital visit, thus the Governor will return to Austin after meeting with officials at City Hall.
  • Charter flight departs Casper, Wyoming for Dallas, Texas. 1:07 pm MDT / 2:07 pm CDT
  • Governor lands at Love Field in Dallas, Texas. Executive Aide Garrett Neeren provides the orthopedic shoes and  choice of ties for the Governor to wear in Dallas.4 :00 pm
  • Governor meets with Mayor Rawlings and Police Chief Brown at Dallas City Hall. 4:40 pm
  • Governor and Mayor Rawlings hold a press conference at City Hall joined by Attorney General Paxton and members of the Dallas Delegation of the Texas Legislature. Lt. Governor Patrick was invited to attend the press conference but, after spending the entire day in Dallas, had to return to Houston for a previously scheduled event.
  • Governor calls Daniel Hodge and Matt Hirsch en route to airport for update on events.
  • Governor boards charter flight at Love Field for return to Austin. 6:00 pm
  • Governor and First Family land in Austin, return to Governor’s Mansion. 7:15 pm.
  • Governor’s Mansion is lit with blue lights in honor of fallen officers. 9:00 pm


  • Governor calls Daniel Hodge to get update on developments. 11:00 am.
  • White House calls Daniel Hodge to arrange call between President and Governor. 2:00 pm
  • Daniel Hodge calls Governor to inform him President will be calling within the next hour.
  • Governor transported to St. David’s Hospital in Austin to have his wounds dressed. While the wounds were being dressed, President Obama called the Governor. 3:00 pm
  • Doctors at St. David’s hospital confirm that Governor has third and second degree burns on lower legs and feet.



  • Governor transported to St. David’s Hospital in Austin to have his wounds dressed.



  • Governor will receive treatment at Brooke Army Medical Center Burn Unit. 1:00 pm
  • Treating physicians at Brooke Army Medical Center Burn Unit will advise Governor on daily treatment plan for burns.

Will Gov. Abbott make it to the convention here? I don’t know.

He was to lead the delegation from the largest red state. There are certainly excellent medical facilities here. It would be a chance to raise his national profile, though he wasn’t asked to speak at the convention.

But it remains to be seen whether next week’s convention is one that he would regret missing, or one that will leave those who do attend it thinking that, on the whole, they would, a la W.C. Fields, rather have been  in Philadelphia.

But, of course, that would be the Democratic Convention, the week after next.

Meanwhile, I don’t know whether it was the TV in my hotel room, but MSNBC, and only MSNBC, this morning deployed some avant-garde camera work.

This is a full screen shot from Morning Joe.

Mika's ear
Mika’s ear






Author: Jonathan Tilove

Jonathan Tilove is the Statesman's chief political writer. He was a Washington correspondent for the New Orleans Times-Picayune from 2008 to 2012. Before that he covered race and immigration issues for Newhouse News Service for 18 years.

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