The Brief: Top Texas News for Sept. 26, 2012

The Big Conversation:

Mitt Romney may be cutting back on fundraising, but his campaign isn't done tapping Texas donors.

Paul Ryan, Romney's running mate, traveled to Houston on Tuesday to speak at a high-dollar reception and private dinner.

In what the Houston Chronicle called "low-key, almost perfunctory remarks," Ryan told a crowd of 630 supporters at the Hotel St. Regis that "this is a huge generation-defining, trajectory-picking election. Please note that we understand that. Mitt Romney and I get that."

Romney "and this moment are meeting perfectly for this time in history, because after getting the runaround for four years, we need a turnaround," Ryan said, deploying many of the same references from his stump speeches.

Ryan's Houston visit came just after he and Romney concluded a three-day bus tour of Ohio, where most polls in the past two weeks have shown the Republican ticket trailing President Barack Obama by about 5 to 8 points. The Romney campaign, though, insists that the crucial swing state is still in play.

Ryan's visit also came just as reports have surfaced about some Republicans' disappointment with the Romney campaign's use of the Wisconsin congressman, whom many conservatives had come to revere for his bold proposals and specificity.

As the Washington Post wrote on Monday: "There has been mounting concern among Republicans that the pick has made Ryan look more like Romney — vague, cautious and limited to preset talking points. Dissatisfaction with the trajectory of the campaign seems highest among Ryan’s most ardent backers. They view Romney’s campaign as having doubled back to a cautious strategy, avoiding Ryan’s trademark big ideas, and hoping President Obama will beat himself."

Culled:

  • Republican Francisco "Quico" Canseco and Democrat Pete Gallego, who are locked in arguably the state's most competitive congressional race, faced off in a Spanish-language debate in San Antonio on Tuesday night. The debate — likely the first of its kind for a congressional race, according to the San Antonio Express-News — centered on Medicare and Medicaid, the national debt and Social Security. Canseco, the Republican incumbent, said he would "rescue and strengthen Medicare and Social Security" and that Gallego's policies would "destroy the economic force of our nation." Gallego, a state representative from Alpine, fired back, claiming that Canseco has voted against Medicare and wants to privatize Social Security. "He went to be our voice," Gallego said, "but he's nothing more than a spokesman for the most extreme ideas in Congress." The heated race, a target for both national parties, has also drawn the attention of Super PACs like the GOP-backed Congressional Leadership Fund, which on Tuesday announced a $330,000 ad buy against Gallego.
  • Though Texas' economy has fared better than that of the U.S. since the recession, growth has stayed somewhat sluggish. But new indicators this month — including increased consumer confidence and activity in the service sector — show that growth may be accelerating, according to The Dallas Morning News. "It does look like the economy has gotten strong in September,” said Anil Kumar, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  • State Sen. Wendy Davis, the Fort Worth Democrat seeking re-election in Senate District 10, has launched her TV ad campaign with a biographical spot that touts her focus on education. Davis faces state Rep. Mark Shelton, R-Fort Worth, in Texas' only competitive state Senate race.

"I’m less concerned about some former congressman. I’m focused on the future of the state of Texas." — House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, on former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey, whose group FreedomWorks has endorsed state Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, for speaker

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