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The Brief: June 25, 2012

Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst on Friday went one-on-one for the first time, but the real sparks flew after the debate.

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The Big Conversation:

Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst on Friday went one-on-one for the first time, but the real sparks flew after the debate.

As the Tribune's Aman Batheja reports, the two U.S. Senate candidates, who faced off for an hour at the studios of Dallas PBS affiliate KERA, largely stuck to the campaign talking points they've been deploying for months: Dewhurst took credit for the Texas economy's relative strength, while Cruz cited lawsuits he had won as the state's solicitor general and accused Dewhurst of increasing state spending and caving on conservative principles by negotiating with Democrats. (Check out the Tribune's debate liveblog for a play-by-play.)

But arguably the hottest line of the night came after the debate, when Cruz at a press conference said Dewhurst had only received the endorsement of Gov. Rick Perry because Perry had clashed with the lieutenant governor over the state budget and now wanted him out of office.

"It is in his political interest to get rid of David Dewhurst and get him out of Austin and send him somewhere else," Cruz said.

Perry wasted no time firing off a statement in response to Cruz.

"Earlier this evening Ted Cruz falsely characterized my rationale for endorsing my friend and conservative colleague David Dewhurst for the U.S. Senate," Perry said. "David Dewhurst championed and passed multiple tax cuts, billions in spending cuts, major tort reform and strong pro-life measures. David will build on that Texas conservative success in the U.S. Senate to overhaul Washington, block President Obama's socialist agenda and restore the 10th amendment of the US Constitution. Making false statements about my motives or David Dewhurst's conservative record is a disservice to Texas voters."

Culled:

  • Texas is now home to the two most prolific donors to federal Super PACS in the nation. According to the San Antonio Express-News, Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons and Houston homebuilder Bob Perry through May 31 have given more than $20 million to PACs supporting Mitt Romney. And one of those groups, the Karl Rove-backed American Crossroads, has raised about $35 million, more than $19 million of which has come from Texans.
  • Two new videos in support of David Dewhurst dropped ahead of Friday's debate. In one, a 30-second TV ad produced by the campaign, Dewhurst again hits Ted Cruz over his legal work for a Chinese company accused of patent infringement by an American businessman. In the other, a web video released by a Super PAC supporting Dewhurst, Rick Perry praises the lieutenant governor and says that some of Cruz's supporters "don't know anything about how Texas works."
  • As the number of obese Texans has risen over the years, so has the amount of taxpayer money spent on weight-loss surgery for the poor and elderly, the Tribune's Emily Ramshaw reports. Medicare spending for weight-loss surgeries for Texas seniors, for instance, grew by nearly 400 percent from 2006 to 2010. Use our interactive to track taxpayer spending in Texas on such surgeries and to see where they're happening most.

"This is almost Nixonian, if not absolutely Nixonian, in the cover-up that's going on with the Fast and Furious."Rick Perry in an appearance Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation

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