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The Brief: Aug. 29, 2011

Texas will play host this week to the quietly escalating battle between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.

Gov. Rick Perry outside the House chamber on May 28, 2011.

The Big Conversation:

Texas will play host this week to the quietly escalating battle between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.

Both candidates, vying for front-runner status in the Republican presidential field, will appear in San Antonio for the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention, as the San Antonio Express-News reported over the weekend. Perry will speak today before embarking on another fundraising tour; Romney will speak Tuesday.

Though the two won't cross paths, the event may highlight the mounting tension between the two candidates.

Despite saying last week that Perry — whom several polls now show leading the field — hadn't caused him to alter his campaign strategy, Romney now appears to be considering attack ads against Perry as part of a new advertising push, according to the Los Angeles Times. The former Massachusetts governor has so far taken a slow-and-steady approach to the quick and dramatic rise of Perry.

On Sunday, Politico looked at the rocky personal relationship between Perry and Romney, which, as the Austin American-Statesman noted earlier this month, appears to have stemmed from a 2006 disagreement involving Republican strategist Alex Castellanos.

Though the two candidates deny any animus, unnamed sources aligned with Perry tell Politico he thinks Romney has "no spine, no backbone." A Romney ally says, "I think Mitt thinks Perry is not that bright."

For both camps, the tension only amplifies the choice now facing Republican voters. "The question is," says political adviser Mark McKinnon, "do GOP primary voters want to nominate Arthur Fonzarelli or Richie Cunningham?”

Culled:

  • Gov. Rick Perry has so far made states' rights the ideological keystone of his Washington-bashing campaign. But, as reported today in the first collaboration between The Texas Tribune and The New York Times, some critics see opportunism and inconsistency in Perry's 10th Amendment trumpeting.
  • The Houston Chronicle has a look at the cloud of secrecy that has kept reporters and the public from detailed records of Rick Perry's decade as governor.
  • As the Austin American-Statesman reports, a group of powerful Houston business leaders wants to overhaul the state's pension system, potentially setting the stage for the next Wisconsin-like fight over public employee benefits. Bill King, the group's founder, may push legislators to support a constitutional amendment that would replace public pensions with retirement accounts.

"They’re at home now watching re-runs of CSI: Miami.”Mark Miner, a spokesman for Rick Perry, on bitter political opponents' criticism of Perry, about whom Politico today wonders, "Is he dumb — or just misunderestimated?"

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