The Big Conversation:
Grasping for momentum, Gov. Rick Perry may have finally found a little over the weekend.
Perry, still stung by a virtually endless string of gaffes that continue to mar his campaign, turned in one of his best debate performances yet at Saturday's ABC News forum in Des Moines, Iowa.
And while Perry's flub-free performance alone may not save his campaign, aides to the governor hope that a much-discussed exchange with Mitt Romney — in which Romney offered Perry a $10,000 bet that his position on health care in his book hadn't changed from one edition to the next, and Perry declined — has cracked the door open for Perry.
Politico reports today that the Perry campaign released a web video using the remark to paint Romney as out of touch.
"The idea that I would have $10,000 to make a bet was a little out of the ordinary," Perry told reporters in Iowa on Sunday. "I’m not a bettin’ man, so it was no harm, no foul from my perspective. … I would suggest to you that $10,000 is pocket change for Mitt to make that statement. But you’ll need to ask him. You know, maybe it was just a misstatement or something, who knows."
As the Tribune's Jay Root reported, large crowds for Perry on Sunday at a coffee shop in Ames confirmed that the governor continues to at least draw interest in Iowa, where his campaign last week drew heavy criticism for airing an aggressive ad denouncing the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." Shortly after he appeared on Fox News to hit Romney on health care and call for a constitutional amendment allowing prayer in public schools, protesters greeted the governor at the coffee shop.
"You’re a divider!" shouted one protester, Warren Blumenfeld, a local college professor and gay activist. "You don’t have a right to be president of the United States. … Go back to Texas!"
- With a one-paragraph order issued Friday night, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the use of court-drawn maps for legislative and congressional districts in Texas, scrambling virtually every facet of the state's 2012 elections. The proceedings — the court told lawyers to be prepared for oral arguments next month — could delay some or all of the state's primaries and draw several candidates back to races for seats they've already announced they won't seek. And, as the Tribune's Ross Ramsey reports, that's just the beginning.
- The influential SCOTUSblog has a more detailed look at the legal issues at play behind the redistricting case that has thrown Texas' elections cycle for a loop. As Lyle Denniston writes: "The three-court puzzle involves, in addition to the Supreme Court, two District Courts — one sitting in San Antonio, the other in Washington, D.C. The two lower courts have different tasks, but their actions have lately been overlapping; both have the authority to affect the choices that Texas’s voters will have when they go to the polls — first in March, if the present primary date still holds, and then in November, at the general election."
- A survey conducted by The Dallas Morning News has found lukewarm support for Rick Perry among the State Republican Executive Committee, a 62-member group of locally elected, influential activists. Of the 35 committee members who responded to the News, about half endorsed the governor for president, 15 said they were undecided and three said they supported someone else.
"I would suggest to you that I was pretty fatigued. No excuses. It was error. It’s what it is. Look, if anybody is looking for the perfect candidate, I’m not it." — Rick Perry to the Des Moines Register on his performance in early presidential debates
- Tracing a Mother’s Vagabond Path to Murder and Suicide in Texas, The New York Times
- Austin may ban most plastic, paper bags, Austin American-Statesman
- Dallas case may test marriage laws for transgendered people, The Dallas Morning News
- Texas faith leaders don't see an Obama war on religion, San Antonio Express-News
- Measuring the Impact of Historic Education Cuts, The Texas Tribune