07/10/2014 01:25 pm ET Updated Nov 20, 2014

GOP Really Wants Obama To Visit The Border. But They Criticized Him For Doing So In 2011

Republicans clamoring for a presidential visit to the U.S.-Mexico border this week were singing a different tune after Barack Obama's first trip there as president in 2011.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) tore into "tone deaf" Obama on Tuesday for not visiting the U.S.-Mexico border to assess the crisis of immigrant children flooding across it, spurred in part by rising violence in Central America.

“Texans do not need a lecture from a man who refuses to even see the crisis firsthand. President Obama can fundraise and issue statements, Texans will work to solve the problem," he said in a statement.

Yet Cornyn's office had very different words for Obama during the the president's trip to El Paso, Texas, in May 2011, when Obama attempted to rally support for legislation that would ultimately create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. A spokesman for Cornyn criticized the trip as nothing more than a staged event that would do little to secure the nation's border.

"What Sen. Cornyn is looking for, President Obama cannot deliver with another speech or photo op, and that's presidential leadership. Words matter little when there is no action," said Kevin McLaughlin.

Drew Brandewie, communications director for Cornyn, explained the discrepancy Wednesday by pointing out that the White House didn't declare a "humanitarian crisis" in 2011.

The president's decision not to visit the border this week also rankled Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who equated it with former President George W. Bush's bungled response to Hurricane Katrina.

"It is a humanitarian crisis, and that I will suggest is the reason the president needs to come to the border, to see it himself," Perry said in an interview on Fox News. "I think about the criticism George W. Bush received when he didn't go to New Orleans in Katrina. This is no different."

But he, too, spoke critically of Obama's first trip to the border, describing it as a "photo-op" and criticizing him for proclaiming that "the border was as safe as it’s ever been."

Defending his decision not to visit the border in a press conference on Wednesday, Obama said he wasn't interested in engaging in "political theater" and instead urged Congress to pass a supplemental funding bill to deal with the crisis.

“There's nothing that is taking place down there that I am not intimately aware of or briefed on,” he said in Dallas. “This isn't theater. This is a problem. I'm not interested in photo ops, I'm interested in solving a problem.”

That remark proved an awkward contrast, however, to Obama's trip to Colorado on Tuesday -- which included images of the president playing pool with Gov. John Hickenlooper (D).

“It’s not like the president is averse to all photo-ops, we showed you yesterday he was fist bumping with a guy in a gorilla suit, a guy in a horse head showed up, he was drinking beer with the governor of Colorado," CNN's John King said on "New Day." "So it is hard for him to say he doesn’t do photo-ops when he’s doing a lot of photo-ops."