The Big Conversation:
On the final day of early voting, the contrast in style between Ted Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst hasn't been sharper.
On Thursday, the two candidates, locked in a heated Republican battle for U.S. Senate that comes to an end Tuesday, received wildly different public displays of support.
Cruz, buoyed by strong fundraising numbers and recent polls that have shown him ahead of Dewhurst, spoke Thursday evening at a conservative rally hosted by the national Tea Party group FreedomWorks. In front of a large and boisterous crowd at Dallas' American Airlines Center, Cruz saved most of his fire for President Barack Obama, according to The Dallas Morning News.
"Can we restore the U.S. Constitution? Yes we can," Cruz said, ribbing the president's campaign slogan.
Cruz received praise from several other prominent conservatives in attendance, including U.S. Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky. Conservative pundit and blogger Michelle Malkin also name-checked Cruz in her speech.
Meanwhile, Cruz's fanfare — which also includes a rally tonight in The Woodlands with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and additional campaigning over the weekend with former presidential candidate Rick Santorum — dwarfed Dewhurst's Thursday.
At a press conference in Austin, Comptroller Susan Combs endorsed the lieutenant governor, calling him a "tough, principled conservative" and praising him for aiding the state's economy. Dewhurst also won the backing of state Sen. Dan Patrick, the Houston Republican and conservative radio show host, who had previously said he wouldn't endorse but on Thursday wrote in a Facebook post: "[Dewhurst] is well qualified based on the job he has done in Texas helping us pass the most conservative legislative package in the nation, limiting spending, and creating the best economy in the country."
With little separating the two candidates on issues of substance, style — including the politicians they've rallied to their side — continues to define their differences.
“Ted Cruz has relied on out-of-state support for his entire campaign, so it’s no surprise they’re rallying for him in the final days of the campaign,” Dewhurst spokesman Matt Hirsch told the Morning News.
- U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will visit Texas next month to help raise money for Mitt Romney, according to Politico. Rubio, long rumored as a potential vice presidential contender for Romney but now considered a long shot, will host two events in San Antonio on Aug. 15 with Romney's brother, Scott.
- Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples on Thursday joined Republicans and the meat industry in lashing out against a recent message from the U.S. Department of Agriculture encouraging "Meatless Mondays," as the Austin American-Statesman reports. "Perhaps the best apology would be to fire the person or persons responsible for distributing these treasonous comments," Staples wrote on his blog. "Why should our hardworking beef producers be paying the uninformed enemy’s salary? Without delay, the responsible parties have got to go." The USDA has since walked back the message, saying the newsletter in which it appeared wasn't properly vetted.
- As The Dallas Morning News reports, Dallas Democratic congressional candidate Domingo Garcia on Thursday said for the first time that voters should elect him because he is Hispanic. Garcia — a former state representative running for the Democratic nomination in Congressional District 33 against state. Rep. Marc Veasey — told a radio show that if elected he would be able team with sitting U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, who is black, to form a minority coalition. "The district was created as a Hispanic seat. It’s 66 Hispanic and 17 percent African-American," Garcia said. "If you have a strong Hispanic and a strong African-American representing North Texas, as Democrats that makes Texas better and makes North Texas better." Veasey, who is black, called Garcia's remark "divisive."
"I hope and pray that the mainstream media will get past the enjoyment of vilifying and trying to destroy the messenger and look at the message." — U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, to the House floor Thursday on criticism he has received for alleging ties between a top Hillary Clinton aide and the Muslim Brotherhood
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- El Paso ISD targets bullying after teen's death, El Paso Times
- Karl Rove: He's Back, Big Time, Bloomberg Businessweek
- Interactive: Charting Mexico's Drug-Related Murders by Month, The Texas Tribune