The Brief: Top Texas News for Feb. 20, 2013

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, l, shakes hands with LaRue Tactical employees at his arrival Feb. 19, 2013 at their Leander plant.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, l, shakes hands with LaRue Tactical employees at his arrival Feb. 19, 2013 at their Leander plant.

The Big Conversation

An onslaught of media scrutiny doesn't appear to have slowed Ted Cruz, who returned to Texas on Tuesday.

Touring a gun manufacturer in Leander, Cruz again blasted the White House's push for stricter gun laws, calling Democrats' efforts "cynical" and saying Congress should instead focus on "deterring and punishing violent criminals."

"You leave law-abiding citizens and their families vulnerable to criminals when you strip their constitutional right to defend themselves," said Cruz, a staunch gun rights supporter who last month brought a pistol grip to a hearing on gun violence.

 

A flood of press rained down on Cruz last week after his contentious questioning of Chuck Hagel, the U.S. defense secretary nominee. Politico and The New York Times reported on the freshman senator's propensity for throwing bombs; columnists went a step further, saying he'd crossed the line and calling him the GOP's "nasty newcomer." 

Cruz said of the attention: "Washington has a long tradition of trying to hurl insults to silence those who they don't like what they're saying. I have to admit I find it amusing that those in Washington are puzzled when someone actually does what they said they would do."

Cruz also came to the defense of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican whose infamous lunge for a water bottle during his State of the Union rebuttal last week is making new headlines.

"I think Democrats and the media are afraid of Marco Rubio because he is a smart, intelligent, conservative Hispanic. And they are looking for any excuse they can to attack him, because that threatens them,” Cruz said, according to The Dallas Morning News. "Look, he took a drink of water in a speech. And it dominated the news for days with one network saying it was a career ender."

Cruz's two-day visit to Texas, which concludes today, includes stops in Houston, San Antonio and Dallas.

Culled

•    Reducing School Tests Draws Support in Hearing (The Texas Tribune): "More than 100 witnesses signed up to testify before the House Public Education Committee on Tuesday about a massive schools bill that would restructure student testing, graduation requirements and the public school accountability system in the state. Many said the current system of stifles teachers and students."

•    Senate leaders plan hearings on Powers, regents spat (Austin American-Statesman): "A day after state legislative leaders strongly signaled their support for University of Texas President Bill Powers, Senate leaders on Tuesday announced plans to hold hearings on reports that some UT regents are engaged in a power struggle to push Powers out."

 

•    Undocumented immigration in Texas falls to its lowest level since the 1980s (San Antonio Express-News): "The number of undocumented immigrants entering Texas has plummeted to its lowest point in more than two decades thanks to the nation's wounded economy and beefed-up border security, according to a new demographic study by the New York-based Center for Migration Studies."

•    Gay marriage group offers new ads (Politico): "A pro-gay marriage group is set to launch a $1 million media campaign in support of same-sex nuptials, with full-page ads in several major newspapers and a television spot featuring President Barack Obama, former first lady Laura Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney. The Respect for Marriage Coalition, co-chaired by the Human Rights Campaign, is behind the ad campaign, which begins with TV spots airing on national cable and the Sunday-morning talk shows, along with ads in POLITICO, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, officials with the group said."

•    Husband of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords weighs in on gun control debate (The Dallas Morning News): "As a Navy captain and astronaut, Mark Kelly assumed his work was riskier than his wife’s job as a congresswoman. But his combat missions and trips to space turned out to be safer than Gabrielle Giffords' visit with constituents in 2011 at an Arizona supermarket, where a man shot her in the head and killed six other people. 'As it would turn out, Gabby is the one who would nearly lose her life serving her country,' Kelly said during a speech Tuesday night at the University of Texas at Arlington."

Quote of the Day: "His objective is not to get a deal, not to pass a serious improvement to our immigration system, but rather to force Republicans to walk away from the table to he can have a political issue to campaign on in 2014 and 2016." — Ted Cruz on Obama's involvement in the debate over immigration reform

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