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The Brief: April 12, 2012

A day before the next U.S. Senate debate, talk has turned to a text message.

Former ESPN analyst Craig James at a U.S. Senate candidate debate in Austin on Jan. 12, 2012.

The Big Conversation:

A day before the next U.S. Senate debate, talk has turned to a text message.

As the Tribune's Aman Batheja reports, former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz texted former ESPN analyst Craig James on Wednesday afternoon with a suggestion about handling front-runner David Dewhurst at Friday's Senate debate in Dallas, where candidates will be allowed to ask one another questions.

"Craig--hope you're well. See you Friday," the text read. "For what it's worth, since you're asking me a Q, it might be worth asking me something about Dew skipping 31 debates (or something else related to his record). Just an idea... Ted."

James copied a screenshot of the iPhone exchange in a press release, calling it "nothing more than an attempt to rig the system."

“Today I was put in an awkward position by Ted Cruz, a man I’ve come to know and respect. Ted sent me a text suggesting I ask him a set-up question for Friday’s United States Senate debate," James said in the release, adding, "This has challenged me to see if I’ll be a man of my word. I’ve campaigned that I’m going to stand for right and this is simply not right. I leave it now to the press and the public to decide whether this kind of politics is acceptable in 2012 Texas. I hope not.”

Cruz campaign spokesman James Bernsen dismissed the text but didn't deny that Cruz sent it. "Newsflash! Ted has consistently and publicly denounced David Dewhurst’s record of ducking 30 plus debates across Texas," Bernsen said. "And the suggestion by Ted that another candidate join in shining light on Dewhurst’s record of hiding from Texas voters should come as no surprise to anyone."

Culled:

  • Planned Parenthood on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit against Texas over the state's decision to ban the health provider from the state's Women's Health Program. The suit, which asks the court to stop enforcement of the ban so that Planned Parenthood clinics may remain in the program past April 30, alleges that the state "overstepped its authority in adopting a rule that conflicts with the purpose of the laws that created the program." The move comes just weeks after Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a federal suit seeking to prevent the Obama administration from cutting off funding for the program.
  • At a House Public Health Committee hearing on Wednesday, critics levied accusations of ineptitude at the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners for what they called its failure take action against corporate-run dental clinics committing Medicaid fraud. But others said the board lacks the resources to adequately perform its job.
  • President Bill Clinton will campaign in El Paso in late April for U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, the El Paso Times reports. In the Democratic primary, Reyes will face former City Councilman Beto O'Rourke, a member of the city's so-called progressive camp and likely Reyes' strongest challenger since his election in 1996.

"It smells good, it might even taste good, but it's really lacking in substance." — San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro comparing a Republican-proposed DREAM Act without a path to citizenship to cotton candy

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