The Big Conversation:
Rick Perry the presidential candidate has re-emerged — in a new book making some controversial claims about his behavior on the campaign trail.
Politico's new e-book Inside the Circus, a behind-the-scenes look at the Republican presidential race by reporters Mike Allen and Evan Thomas, claims that Perry used painkillers during his famously botched debates to relieve pain he'd been experiencing since undergoing back surgery in July.
"It became an open secret that he was using painkillers in sufficient dosages to keep him standing through the two-hour debates," the book says.
The book also describes a scene in which the manager of a rival campaign found Perry before an October debate in New Hampshire singing "I've Been Working on the Railroad" in the bathroom.
"Wondering who was making all the noise, the campaign manager turned his head and saw, to his surprise, the governor of Texas,” the book says. “Nonplussed, the campaign manager made a hasty exit; as the bathroom door closed, he could hear Perry still merrily singing away: ‘I-I-I’ve been working on the ra-a-i-i-l-road, all-l-l the live-long day."
The governor himself even batted away rumors of medication use in November after video of an awkward, frantic speech he delivered in New Hampshire went viral. A month later, he told the Des Moines Register that the surgery had left him "pretty fatigued," and he admitted in a February interview with the Tribune that he'd underestimated how difficult it would be to recover.
On Monday, Ray Sullivan, Perry's former campaign spokesman, slammed the book. "POLITICO's e-book is a low in irresponsible, unsourced and unfounded 'reporting,' with anonymous untruths about Gov. Perry's debate performances," Sullivan said in a statement, according to The Dallas Morning News. "Gov. Perry's recovery from summer surgery was successful, leaving him more than able [to] handle the grueling schedule that accompanies modern presidential campaigns. The governor has stated that July back surgery prevented his regular exercise routine and Perry officials have also repeatedly and truthfully denied that pain medicine was a factor in the campaign. POLITICO's claims are false, unsubstantiated and ultimately harmful to the political and electoral process, and the to trust in the media that covers the process."
- Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has purchased $600,000 worth of airtime in Houston and Dallas to run TV ads for the next week starting today, according to National Journal. The campaign will add more markets later in the week. As the Journal notes, Dewhurst's latest buy comes two weeks after Ted Cruz, one of Dewhurst's chief GOP rivals, spent $222,000 on his first TV spot.
- More than half of the school districts in Texas have signed on to one of the five school finance lawsuits filed against the state, but many — about 450 of the state's 1,028 — still haven't. As the Tribune's Anna Whitney reports, some districts, already facing budget cuts, aren't willing to risk the cost.
- Despite David Dewhurst's vocal opposition to federal health care reform, as the Austin American-Statesman reports, the lieutenant governor has promoted a piece of state legislation that resembles a provision of the Affordable Care Act that awards hospitals for providing sound health care. "There is definitely common ground there," said Anne Dunkelberg of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank. "The core concepts are very similar."
"I haven't decided. I want us to stand for something." — Ron Paul on Monday to a Washington, D.C., radio station on whether he'll support the eventual Republican presidential nominee
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- $178,000 Is a Lot for a Pig, but This Pig Is Paying for College, The New York Times
- Life on the Shale, San Antonio Express-News
- Harris County GOP adopts, then rejects, stumping fee plan, Houston Chronicle
- Indictment: State worker submitted 27 fake doctor notes, Austin American-Statesman