The Brief: Perry Dishes on Cruz in Washington Lunch

Gov. Rick Perry speaking to the Texas Republican Convention on June 5, 2014.
Gov. Rick Perry speaking to the Texas Republican Convention on June 5, 2014.

The Big Conversation

Gov. Rick Perry spent his lunch hour Thursday with a couple dozen reporters in Washington, D.C., in an attempt to turn the page on last week's controversial remarks on homosexuality and to once again stoke talk of a 2016 presidential run.

And while he was at it, he managed to throw a jibe in the direction of Ted Cruz, Texas' junior Senator and a potential rival for the White House.

He did so not just by questioning Cruz's staying power but by doing so via a comparison to Democratic Gov. Ann Richards. "Ann really didn’t change Texas. … Ask me in eight years if Sen. Cruz has made an impact on the state.”

The remarks point to a trial balloon from the Perry camp on how he might maneuver for a run for the White House with a Texan challenger on the right who seems to have captured the hearts and minds of the party's grassroots activists (witness Cruz's dominant turn in the GOP state convention's straw poll).

"Just when you think he can’t possibly be a 2016 national candidate," wrote the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Bud Kennedy, "he rallies with a combination of faith and reason, attracting both business and family-values voters while staking a national role as a Texas alternative to Cruz." The headline to Kennedy's column was instructive as well, calling Perry "the affable anti-Cruz."

Part of Perry's strategy would also seem to be showcasing himself as the Republican capable of moving the party past its focus on divisive social issues and get it talking again about jobs, an issue more Americans can unite on. On Thursday, he tried to accomplish that through a mea culpa on his own remarks comparing homosexuality to alcoholism.

The GOP must "stop being distracted from all the side issues that may be relevant to some particular section of the electorate or the country, but stay focused on what is the most important thing for America."

The Day Ahead

•    Former First Lady and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Austin to promote her new book, Hard Choices. She will appear at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd., at 3 p.m. and at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, 701 W. Riverside Dr., at 7 p.m.

Today in the Trib

Methane Inquiry Closes, But Questions Linger: "Last month, the Railroad Commission of Texas rejected an argument that drilling activity was to blame for methane migrating into a North Texas neighborhood's water supply. But independent geoscientists remain divided on the issue."

After Fire, A Small Town's Future is Uncertain: "A month after a fire destroyed 225 homes near Fritch, the small Panhandle town is grappling with questions about its future after years of drought and a steadily declining population."

Analysis: Pay for Mental Health Care or Pay the Jailer: "Once again, the state's care for mental health patients is under legislative scrutiny, and county sheriffs and other local officials are hoping the state will fix a problem that has spilled into their domains."

Must-Read

Arguments to begin in school finance case on recusal, San Antonio Express-News

Audit shows VA waiting times worse than reported, San Antonio Express-News

Texas authorities gear up to send extra personnel to border, Austin American-Statesman

Moody’s: Privately run section of Texas 130 tollway almost out of money, Austin American-Statesman

Cruz tapes ad for Senate Conservatives Fund in Oklahoma primary, The Dallas Morning News

Garcia: Mayoral stint could get Taylor to the Lege, San Antonio Express-News

$60M Texas high school stadium has major flaws, The Associated Press

Quote to Note

“I got asked about an issue, and instead of saying, ‘You know what, we need to be a really respectful and tolerant country, and get back to talking about, whether you’re gay or straight you need to be having a job, and those are the focuses I want to be involved with,’ instead of getting — which I did, I readily admit, I stepped right in it.”

— Gov. Rick Perry, doing some damage control on Thursday on his comments last week comparing homosexuality to alcoholism

Today in TribTalk

Texas women are on the cusp of victory again, by Grace Ann Garcia: "Nearly 25 years after hundreds of young women stormed the Capitol to cheer on Ann Richards, Texas politics is again shot through with excitement about Democratic women. We're on the verge of something big."

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    The Texas Tribune Festival runs from Sept. 19-21 at the University of Texas at Austin. Tickets are on sale now.