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The Brief: July 21, 2011

Has controversy over The Response gotten to the governor?

March 23rd, 2011 at the Frank Erwin Center.

The Big Conversation:

Has controversy over The Response gotten to the governor?

CNN reported Wednesday that Perry may not speak at his Aug. 6 prayer event at Houston's Reliant Stadium. Organizers for the event, dubbed The Response, said they had yet to determine the extent of Perry's role.

"There will be a handful of speakers, in addition to a number of folks leading prayer, plus some time for praise and worship music," Eric Bearse, a spokesman for the American Family Association, the controversial conservative Christian group sponsoring the event, told CNN. "Whether the governor will speak has not yet been decided at this point," he added.

The indecision comes as critics have charged that Perry's involvement in the prayer service violates the separation of church and state. An atheist watchdog group last week filed a lawsuit seeking to block the governor's participation in the event.

Perry has also taken heat for teaming with the American Family Association, a prominent anti-gay group known for some of its executives' inflammatory statements, from which Perry seemed to be distancing himself earlier this week. “I appreciate anybody that’s going to endorse me, whether it’s on The Response or whether it’s on a potential run for the presidency of the United States,” Perry said. “Just because you endorse me doesn’t mean I endorse everything that you say or do.”

Though an announcement whether he's running for president isn't expected until after the prayer event, if Perry enters the race, his dealings with the group could come under even more scrutiny

The Texas Independent also reported Wednesday that the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas has filed a request seeking the disclosure of any public funding for the event.

“We are concerned that Gov. Perry is using public office to endorse a sectarian religious event and to advance specific Christian beliefs,” Lisa Graybill, legal director for the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement. “We are seeking information on the degree to which state resources have been or will be used for the planning and promotion of this event and for state officials’ participation in it.”

Culled:

  • The Tribune's Jay Root reports that Americans for Rick Perry, a group working independently of the governor, won't receive space to promote Perry at the Ames Straw Poll, an early test for Republicans in Iowa. “They got a lot of pressure from other candidates to exclude us,” Bob Schuman, the consultant who heads the group, said of the Iowa Republican Party. “That’s what we’ve been told.” But it's a small setback for the group, which noted that it has picked up the support of a number of South Carolina activists once committed to U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.
  • Gov. Rick Perry places fifth among Republican primary voters, with 8 percent of the vote, in a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. An important distinction: Unlike the recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll that had Perry cracking double digits, the Post/ABC poll includes former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
  • The Trib's own Evan Smith talked to NPR about what makes the governor tick and why it'd be the "head fake of all time" if he weren't running.
  • Barbara Cargill will preside today over her the first full meeting of the State Board of Education, which is set to decide which publisher will provide the supplemental materials the state will use to update science textbook standards. The Trib's Morgan Smith recently had a look at the new chairwoman, whose supporters and opponents both largely agree that, for better or worse, her leadership won't likely bring big change to the controversial board.
  • Lisa Jackson, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, on Wednesday defended a new emissions rule that has drawn heavy criticism from Texas officials, some of whom say it could cause plants to close. Jackson, in Austin to attend an event dubbed the White House Green Cabinet Forum, said the rule was "not onerous" and that it could be enacted "cheaply and efficiently," as the Trib's Kate Galbraith reports.
  • It didn't take long, but state Rep. Larry Taylor says he's no longer interested in the congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, who said last week that he wouldn't run for re-election. Instead, Taylor, a Republican from Friendswood, may run for the state Senate if Sen. Mike Jackson, R-LaPorte, runs for Congress.

"I don't know the details of all his beliefs. I don't think I've ever met him, and if I did, it was just a handshake, so I don't know in detail." — U.S. Rep. Ron Paul on whether he shares any views with Gov. Rick Perry

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