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The Brief: May 16, 2012

Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday was drawn into the swirl of rumors still encircling the leadership at the University of Texas at Austin.

Gov. Rick Perry in his Capitol office on Feb. 21, 2012.

The Big Conversation:

Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday was drawn into the swirl of rumors still encircling the leadership at the University of Texas at Austin.

In San Antonio on Tuesday to address cost efficiency in higher education and to tout the state's new edition of its higher education almanac, Perry broke his silence about the recent controversy involving UT-Austin President Bill Powers, whom Texas Monthly's Paul Burka reported last week was at risk of losing his job after expressing opposition to a tuition freeze supported by the UT System Board of Regents and Perry.

“I don't think it's any big secret that I'm for keeping the cost of education down, so my suspicion is that no one in Texas thinks that I'm for tuition growth,” Perry said, according to the San Antonio Express-News. “It's a good message to send to the citizens of the state that we're not going to just have tuition ... increasing with no regard for what's happening economically for the citizens of the state.”

Burka, citing an unnamed source, reported that UT Board of Regents Chairman Gene Powell had asked UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa to officially recommend firing Powers, and that Cigarroa refused. Cigarroa later publicly denied that he'd been asked to fire anyone.

The report sparked a social media campaign on behalf of Powers. Facebook groups and a Twitter hashtag sprang up in support of the president, who also received a show of support Monday from the university's Faculty Council.

Asked whether he was pleased with Powers' work at UT-Austin, Perry said, “That's for the Board of Regents to decide. … I've got a state to oversee. I don't spend all my time focused on one institution of higher learning.”

Culled:

  • With early voting still under way, Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst this week have released dueling ads accusing the other of lying about Cruz's work as an appellate lawyer for a Chinese company. Dewhurst's ad, called "Red Handed," began airing across the state on Tuesday. Cruz meanwhile, has launched a radio ad featuring conservative talk show host Mark Levin.
  • The Campaign for Primary Accountability, an anti-incumbent Super PAC, on Tuesday released a new TV ad targeting U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, who is facing a tough re-election battle against former El Paso City Rep. Beto O'Rourke. The ad, which says Reyes has spent "too many years in Congress," targets the longtime congressman for paying family members with campaign funds and raising his own pay.

  • According to BuzzFeed, the Ron Paul campaign will train supporters to make sure they don't stir up any trouble at the Republican National Convention in August. Though Paul announced Monday that he would stop actively campaigning, he will continue to attend some state conventions, and he urged supporters to keep fighting on his behalf. "The campaign itself obviously will be talking, and eventually even Dr. Paul himself, to the Paul supporters who are going to be in Tampa," a Republican strategist close to the campaign told BuzzFeed. "Not only about strategy but also about events that we may have and how this fits into the longer-term goals of the movement and of the Republican Party."

"If it's not part of a secret deal with Romney, it's merely utter idiocy."Ron Paul biographer Brian Doherty to Slate on Paul's announcement this week that he would stop actively campaigning for president

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