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The Brief: Nov. 4, 2011

In a break with his top staffer, Herman Cain isn't backing down from allegations that the Rick Perry campaign is behind the controversy engulfing the presidential race.

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The Big Conversation:

In a break with his top staffer, Herman Cain isn't backing down from allegations that the Rick Perry campaign is behind the controversy engulfing the presidential race.

On Thursday, Cain campaign manager Mark Block backed off charges that the Perry camp had leaked to Politico the story about sexual harassment charges Cain faced in the 1990s. "Let’s get over these things that don’t mean anything to the American public," Block said on Fox News.

But an angry Cain, in an appearance later on Sean Hannity's radio show, renewed his attack on the Perry team, telling Sean Hannity on his radio show, "Let’s just say, there aren’t enough breadcrumbs that we can lay down that leads us anywhere else at this point in time."

The Perry campaign — including Curt Anderson, a Perry adviser who worked on Cain's failed 2004 U.S. Senate campaign — has flatly denied pushing the story. In an interview that aired Thursday on CNN, Perry again dismissed Cain's demand that he apologize for his involvement in the controversy.

"No apology needed," he said, adding, "If you’re passing on rumors that are that heinous, that bad, you don’t need to be working with me. Gone."

The swirling Cain controversy may still play to Perry's benefit. As the Tribune's Jay Root reported Thursday, the chairman of the Super PAC Americans for Rick Perry appears ready to capitalize on Cain's struggles by raising money to air negative ads against Mitt Romney in Iowa.

And as many have noted, the scandal has largely overshadowed coverage of Perry's now-infamous New Hampshire speech, a video of which has recently gone viral. Though, some observers still think the speech may prove damaging for the governor, a la the Howard Dean scream of 2004.

“It’s probably going to be damaging to him and it could be as completely unfair as the Dean video was," Joe Trippi, Dean’s campaign manager, tells Politico. "The video obviously, when you look at it, you think he looks a little out of it. In both instances, it may be that in the room, if you were there, you didn’t get the sense that people get in the video, which is one of the reasons they both went viral."

Culled:

  • The economy is the biggest national issue for Texas voters, but immigration and border security top the list of their biggest state concerns, according to the new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. "Once again, immigration plus border security beats economy plus jobs. That's astounding," says Daron Shaw, the poll's co-director.
  • The New York Times, which in October reported on the Rick Perry campaign's payment for the use of a private jet, has a look at the role private planes have played in Perry's role as governor. As the Times notes, Perry's use of flights funded by corporate executives and high-dollar donors — possibly looking to sway him — may not violate Texas ethics laws, but the governor is unique among politicians for taking private planes to events as part of his state duties. "We chose to err on the side of protecting taxpayers," a Perry spokesman says.
  • The Texas Medical Board may vote today to restrict — or possibly block — the type of adult stem cell therapy that Rick Perry received this summer, according to The Associated Press. As the Tribune's Emily Ramshaw reported in August, Perry sent a letter to the board touting the economic and life-altering potential of adult stem cell therapy.

"Don't nitpick, don't try to Jew them down." — State Rep. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, at a legislative oversight hearing Thursday on the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. Taylor later apologized, saying in a statement, "I regret my poor choice of words and sincerely apologize for any harm they may have caused."

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