The Big Conversation:
If Texas Republicans want to hold a presidential debate, they may have to do so without the race's front-runner.
As the Tribune's Jay Root reported Friday, the Republican Party of Texas has made plans to hold a debate before the state's May 29 primaries. And a peeved Steve Munisteri, the state party's chairman, said Friday that all the major candidates except Mitt Romney have accepted the invitation.
"I am disappointed that Gov. Romney has not yet committed to attending an official Republican Party of Texas event," Munisteri said Friday in a statement, according to The Dallas Morning News. "We are the largest Republican state in the nation. Texas Republicans have contributed over $40 million to the Republican National Committee over the last eight years and have given millions of dollars to numerous national candidates including Gov. Romney."
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Though Rick Santorum continues to present a formidable challenge to the former Massachusetts governor, especially in the South, Romney has amassed what some have deemed an insurmountable delegate lead and has repeatedly attempted to turn his focus to the general election. As the thinking goes, Romney may stand to benefit from skipping Texas, a state whose Republican electorate likely falls more ideologically in line with Santorum, and where polls have shown Santorum leading.
“The only debates our campaign is focused on are with President Obama in the fall," Romney spokesman Ryan Williams told the Tribune.
No date or location has been set yet for the debate, but Munisteri said a major TV outlet has agreed to sponsor the event with all the candidates. Still, Munisteri said there is a "significant chance" that the debate will be televised if one candidate is absent.
- Security costs still rolling in for Rick Perry's presidential campaign continue to mount. As the Tribune reported Friday, new Department of Public Safety records show that costs have risen to almost $3 million. The governor and his aides have repeatedly dismissed calls from Democrats to reimburse the money with funds from his defunct campaign. “It’s unfortunate we live in a world where security is such a top concern,” said Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier. “But that is the case, and providing a security detail has been a tradition going back several administrations.”
- Though the dust-up surrounding Susan G. Komen for the Cure's decision to halt grants to Planned Parenthood has settled, the Dallas-based breast cancer charity has yet to recover from the political fallout. As The Dallas Morning News reports, several of the charity's board members have resigned, registrations at running events have declined and a new poll shows the organization losing favor among Americans.
- The New York Times has a look today at what it calls the "mysteries" behind admissions process at the University of Texas at Austin, whose policies a student has challenged in a major affirmative action suit that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear in the fall. In question is the university's process by which it admits the 25 percent of students who don't secure automatic admission under the state's Top 10 Percent law — and whether minority students or wealthier white applicants stand to benefit more from what the university calls "holistic review."
“I think he’s a dignified person. But I have no common ground on economics. He doesn’t worry about the Federal Reserve. He doesn’t worry about foreign policy. He doesn’t talk about civil liberties, so I would have a hard time to expect him to ever invite me to campaign with him.” — Ron Paul to CBS's Face the Nation on rumors of a Mitt Romney-Ron Paul ticket
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