The Brief: Top Texas News for Sept. 1, 2011

The Big Conversation:

Details of last weekend's pivotal closed-door meeting between Gov. Rick Perry and a group of high-power social conservatives have surfaced.

The Tribune's Jay Root reports today that Perry, at a gathering on prolific Republican donor James Leininger's Hill Country ranch, spent hours fielding questions about his politics and personal life from 150 to 200 of the nation's most prominent evangelical Christians, including James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.

Perry was asked to thoroughly explain his thoughts on political matters like abortion, gay marriage, hate crimes, and immigration and personal issues like his recently reported stem cell therapy.

At one point, Root reports, Perry — with his wife, Anita, at his side — was asked to assure the group that nothing jeopardizing about his personal life would emerge during the presidential campaign.

 

“I can assure you that there is nothing in my life that will embarrass you if you decide to support me for president,” Perry said, according to one of the participants.

Perry also promised the group that if he won the Republican nomination, he would select a running mate who opposes abortion.

Anita Perry was also reportedly asked if she shared her husband's views on abortion and gay marriage, to which she replied that she did.

Perkins, who wouldn't share any specifics about the summit, said it was "the first in a series of meetings that are going to take place with some of the candidates that have requested to meet with social conservative leaders."

Culled:

  • A Super PAC supporting U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann has released the first TV ad that takes direct aim at Gov. Rick Perry. The ad claims that Perry doubled spending in Texas, "covering his deficits with record borrowing." Politico notes that the PAC, Keep Conservatives United, claims it's airing the ad in South Carolina, but that the group could merely be pushing for free media play.
  • About half of the 1,400-plus pieces of legislation passed during the 82nd legislative session earlier this year take effect today. The Tribune, led by reporter Thanh Tan, spent the month of August finding 31 ways in which new laws would change Texans' lives, starting Sept. 1. Now, in an attempt to keep the conservation going, we're encouraging readers to weigh in with their own thoughts about how lawmakers' decisions will affect their lives, in ways big or small.
  • Though he last month planned and then canceled a legislative hearing on the matter, state Rep. Dan Branch, the Dallas Republican who chairs the House Higher Education Committee, said Wednesday that the Legislature won't touch Texas A&M's decision to leave the Big 12, which the university confirmed Wednesday.

"Well, I think it is great to have people come into the race. And of course this is natural when you have a new candidate come in, that sucks a lot of oxygen out of the room, and of course the numbers do deviate. But we are very comfortable with where we are." — U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who has slipped in polls since Rick Perry entered the race, to Fox News

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