The Brief: Top Texas News for July 12, 2012

Mitt Romney arrives at a debate site in Hanover, N.H., on Oct. 11, 2011.
Mitt Romney arrives at a debate site in Hanover, N.H., on Oct. 11, 2011.

The Big Conversation:

Texas played host on Wednesday to the latest pitch in the presidential race: Mitt Romney's appeal to black voters.

Romney took his economic message and other campaign talking points to Houston for the national convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which on election years invites the presidential candidates of both parties to speak at its event.

In ostensibly hostile territory, given President Barack Obama's overwhelming support among blacks, Romney delivered a blunt speech to a crowd of about 600, sharply criticizing Obama's policies and saying he'd make a better president.

"I believe that if you understood who I truly am in my heart, and if it were possible to fully communicate what I believe is in the real, enduring best interest of African-American families, you would vote for me for president," he said. "I want you to know that if I did not believe that my policies and my leadership would help families of color — and families of any color — more than the policies and leadership of President Obama, I would not be running for president."

The audience remained mostly polite — until Romney said he would work to repeal "Obamacare," eliciting a chorus of boos from the audience.

"If you want a president who will make things better in the African-American community, you are looking at him," Romney said, drawing more jeers.

As The Dallas Morning News notes, while polls suggest Romney won't likely cut into Obama's strong support among black voters this year, the speech may have served another purpose for the candidate: pleasing conservatives hostile to the NAACP, and showing independents that he can face a room of his toughest critics.

Even some members of the audience applauded Romney's mettle.

"I give him thumbs up for being courageous," William Braxton, a 59-year-old retiree from Maryland, told The New York Times. Braxton added, though, that he disagreed that Romney would make the better president for blacks.

Though Obama won't speak at the convention this year, Vice President Joe Biden will make an appearance on Thursday.

Culled:

  • As the Tribune's Jay Root reported Wednesday, the office of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst recently removed all of his speeches from his state website, including a 2007 address in which he expressed support for a guest-worker program for illegal immigrants. A Dewhurst aide could not give an exact date when the speeches were removed but acknowledged that they were were pulled after reporters began inquiring about the 2007 speech.
  • A Texas district court judge this week ruled that, as with water, the state must protect the air and atmosphere for public use, The Associated Press reports. The ruling rebutted the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's contention that only water should receive such protections and, lawyers say, could be used to argue climate change cases in other states.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Texas General Land Office accusing the agencies of gender discrimination. The suit claims that three women who worked as program specialists in the Disaster Recovery Division of the Texas Department of Rural Affairs suffered pay discrimination, receiving annual salaries ranging from $62,000 to $72,522 while their male counterparts made between $79,631 and $95,157.

"Shame on him." — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's recent comments comparing voter ID laws to poll taxes

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