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The Brief: Nov. 23, 2011

To some, Newt Gingrich sounded an awful lot like Rick Perry at Tuesday night's Republican debate.

The set at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. on Oct. 10, 2011, the night before Rick Perry's fourth Republican presidential…

The Big Conversation:

To some, Newt Gingrich sounded an awful lot like Rick Perry at Tuesday night's Republican debate.

The former U.S House speaker, who has recently surged to the top of several national and early-state polls, commanded the debate stage for most of the night, offering assured responses to questions about foreign policy and national security, the focus of the CNN/Heritage Foundation forum.

But as the topic turned to border security and illegal immigration, Gingrich waded into tricky Republican territory when he said that most Americans wouldn't support deporting illegal immigrants who have resided in the U.S. for many years. "I’m prepared to take the heat for saying, 'Let’s be humane,'" he said.

The comments echoed Perry's assertion in a September debate that critics of a bill extending in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants "don't have a heart."

Some of Gingrich's opponents seized on the comment. Mitt Romney said he opposed "magnets," like amnesty, that draw illegal immigrants. Michele Bachmann's campaign sent out a press release after the debate titled "Newt Gingrich's Open Door to Illegal Immigrant Amnesty."

As the Tribune's Emily Ramshaw and Jay Root report, Perry — who largely failed to break through but committed no serious gaffes during the night — appeared to side with Gingrich but then called border security the more pressing concern.

Whether Gingrich's remarks stick to him the way Perry's did to him remains uncertain.

Nate Silver of The New York Times' FiveThirtyEight argues that Gingrich's views don't actually depart too drastically from mainstream Republican opinion.

And as Politico's Maggie Haberman writes: "The difference in Gingrich’s case is that, unlike Perry, he didn’t use a term that conservatives associate with liberals — 'heart' — and framed his stand in a conversation about 'values.' And Gingrich seemed truly confident in his position — again, unlike Perry."

Culled:

  • A Super PAC backing U.S. Rep. Ron Paul has released new private polling data showing the congressman in a tie for first place in Iowa with Herman Cain, Politico reports. Though internal, the poll aligns with at least two recent surveys that have shown Paul on top in the early-caucus state.
  • William Adams, the Aransas County judge caught beating his daughter in a widely circulated online video, has been suspended by the Texas Supreme Court, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct has opened an investigation into Adams, though the court order gave no reason for the suspension. 
  • The Austin American-Statesman reports that the state has asked for a federal court in Washington to begin hearings on Texas' redistricting maps by the second weekend of December. A federal panel in San Antonio last week released interim maps for the state to use while the D.C.-based court examines whether the original Republican-drawn plans meet federal voting rights standards. In other redistricting news, the Houston Chronicle reports that the Mexican American Legislative Caucus lashed out Tuesday against House Speaker Joe Straus for his warning that state Republican leadership may ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the redistricting process. As state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, the San Antonio Democrat who chairs the caucus, wrote in a letter to Straus: "Most members do not know the role you, your staff, and certain allies outside the House played during the redistricting process — but we are willing to have that debate publicly, if necessary."
  • The race to replace Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones, who's running for state Senate, has attracted the attention of several former commissioners, the Tribune's Ross Ramsey reports in this week's Campaign Roundup. Christi Craddick won the endorsements from former Commissioners Charles Matthews and Barry Williamson. Victor Carrillo, who lost his seat on the commission last year, has endorsed one of Craddick's opponents, state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa.

"If Leon Panetta is an honorable man, he should resign in protest."Rick Perry, during Tuesday's debate, on automatic cuts to the defense budget that may result because of the congressional supercommittee's failure to reach a deal on long-term deficit reduction. Panetta heads the Defense Department.

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