The Brief: GOP Officeholders Taking Sides on Nugent

The Big Conversation

Ted Nugent on Thursday became a litmus test of sorts for Republican officeholders in the wake of the rocker's appearance on the campaign trail with Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott.

Both Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz distanced themselves to varying degrees from Nugent's most controversial past statements, such as calling President Barack Obama a "subhuman mongrel." Cruz, for instance said“Those sentiments, of course, I don’t agree with. You’ve never heard me say such a thing, nor would I.”

After seeming to shrug off Nugent's comments earlier in the day ("That’s just Ted"), Perry more clearly disapproved of Nugent's language in a CNN interview later on Thursday. "We agree that is not appropriate language to use about the president of the United States," Perry said.

Potential 2016 presidential contender Rand Paul had the most forceful condemnation of Nugent, writing on Twitter: "Ted Nugent's derogatory description of President Obama is offensive and has no place in politics. He should apologize."

The Dallas Morning News, meanwhile, in an editorial took Abbott to task for appearing with Nugent in the first place. "Abbott thought Nugent's vociferous Second Amendment advocacy would help burnish the candidate's gun-rights credentials. But Abbott and his campaign staff apparently didn't look into the more controversial aspects of Nugent's past, which should have given everyone reason to keep the candidate as far away from Nugent as possible," the paper wrote. "This misstep calls Abbott's leadership and judgment into question and unnecessarily places his campaign on the defensive."

The Day Ahead

•    The House International Trade & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee is in Laredo for an interim hearing (agenda)

•    Today is the last day to apply for a ballot by mail

•    GOP lite guv candidate Todd Staples is in Katy on Friday and in Tyler on Saturday

Today in the Trib

Carona, Huffines Face Off in Contentious SD-16 Primary: "State Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, says his long tenure in office is an asset. Donald Huffines, who is challenging him in a contentious Republican primary race, says he's too liberal and too corrupt to represent a conservative Senate district."

Amarillo Struggles to Handle Influx of Refugees: "Amarillo receives a higher ratio of new refugees to the existing population than any other Texas city. Local officials are worried that the refugee population is straining the city’s resources."

Republicans Throwing Time and Money Into Field Game: "Although Republicans have dominated Texas politics over the last 20 years, GOP leaders have been preaching about the need for better minority outreach and updated technology."

A Risky Move by a Candidate With Light Competition: "Republican Greg Abbott included controversial musician and entertainer Ted Nugent in a couple of campaign stops this week. It could have been scripted by his likely November rival, Wendy Davis."

Must-Read

Tea party tempest boils over in Montgomery County split, Houston Chronicle

Kennedy: In Grapevine, a Tea Party leader says no to — Methodists?, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Smitherman swings at Abbott over child support, Houston Chronicle

Railroad hopeful Wayne Christian wrote, without intent to pass, oil and gas regulation bills, The Dallas Morning News

Senators question reforms after spike in deaths of foster children, Austin American-Statesman

The Generation Gap, Texas Monthly

Quote to Note

"We’ve all said things that we’d like to reel back in. I suggest to you this is probably one of those for him."

— Gov. Rick Perry, talking to CNN's Wolf Blitzer about Ted Nugent's description of President Obama as a "subhuman mongrel"

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    Texas Tribune Festival On the Road at the University of Texas El Paso for a daylong symposium on demographic change, 2/27

•    Live Post-Primary Election TribCast at the Austin Club, 3/5

•    A Conversation With Sen. Wendy Davis, 2014 Democratic Candidate for Governor, at Stateside at the Paramount, 3/6

•    A Conversation With Sen. Charles Schwertner and Reps. John Raney and Kyle Kacal at Texas A&M University in College Station, 3/27

•    A Conversation with U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway at Midland College in Midland, 5/13

•    Save the date for the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival: 9/19-9/21

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