The Brief: Top Texas News for Nov. 30, 2012

Ted Cruz with daughter Caroline at his election watch party in Houston on Nov. 6, 2012.
Ted Cruz with daughter Caroline at his election watch party in Houston on Nov. 6, 2012.

The Big Conversation:

Still reflecting on the election, U.S. Sen.-elect Ted Cruz says he knows why Republicans lost, and what they can do about it.

Speaking Thursday in Washington at a gala for the conservative American Principles Project, Cruz said Democrats won on Election Day not because of their ideas, but because they won the messaging war.

"Why did we lose? It wasn’t as the media would tell you: because the American people embraced big government, Barack Obama’s spending and debt and taxes," Cruz said, according to Politico, adding, "That wasn’t what happened. I’m going to suggest to you a very simple reason why we lost the election: We didn’t win the argument. We didn’t even make the argument."

Cruz, who won handily on Election Day and is seen as a rising star in a party that lost heavily among minorities, said Mitt Romney's infamous "47 percent" comments didn't help, either.

"You want to know why Barack Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote?" he said. "Tone on immigration contributed, but I think far more important was '47 percent.' … Republicans nationally, the story we conveyed was that 47 percent are stuck in a static world. We don’t have to worry about you, what that clip famously said. I cannot think of an idea more antithetic to the American principle."

While Republicans shouldn't compromise on their values, Cruz said, Romney's remarks highlighted the party's need to change its tone on issues — and embrace what Cruz dubbed "Opportunity Conservatism."

"We need to conceptualize, we need to articulate conservative domestic policy with a laser focus on opportunity," he said, "on easing the means of ascent up the economic ladder."

As Politico notes, the speech is sure to fire up speculation again about Cruz's future political ambitions, which took on an even higher profile earlier this month when he suggested to The New Yorker that his place of birth — Canada — wouldn't keep him from running for president, if he decided to do so one day.

Culled:

  • Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Thursday called on state lawmakers to consider tapping into the state's Rainy Day Fund to help finance much-needed water projects. Speaking to the Dallas Regional Chamber, Dewhurst recommended drawing $1 billion from the fund to help cities build reservoirs to keep pace with the state's rapid population growth. "As a fiscal conservative, we can draw down a little bit and still keep a very healthy balance," he said.
  • Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday voiced support for letting school districts choose whether to implement a rule under which the state's new STAAR exams would count for 15 percent of high school students' final grades. Perry also asked Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams to delay the roll-out of the rule — which has come under fire from lawmakers and education leaders — for another year. "While we must continue to adhere to our state’s accountability system, we must also recognize the importance of local control," Perry wrote in a letter to Williams. "That is why I am asking you to defer until the 2013-14 school year the requirement that an end-of-course assessment count as 15 percent of a student’s final course grade."
  • The state's cancer-fighting agency on Thursday admitted that it approved an $11 million grant in 2010 without proper review. The $3 billion agency, called the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, said it has since cleared up the issue, but the revelation only adds to the list of troubles plaguing CPRIT, which in recent months has received intense scrutiny over the role politics has played in how it awards grants. 

"We've got the guys with the good ideas. Unfortunately, we're not leading with them." — U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert on the fiscal cliff debate

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