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The Brief: Aug. 8, 2012

Already basking into the national spotlight, Ted Cruz will get an even bigger platform later this month.

Ted Cruz speaking at the state Republican convention on June 9, 2012.

The Big Conversation:

Already basking into the national spotlight, Ted Cruz will get an even bigger platform later this month.

As Fox News' Greta Van Susteren reported Tuesday, Cruz has been selected to speak at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

Fresh off his stunning U.S. Senate primary victory last week over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the former state solicitor general has captivated Republicans in Texas and beyond, many of whom began pushing for, and predicting, a Cruz speaking slot at the national convention, which will be held Aug. 27-30.

Cruz's name was announced Tuesday along with four others, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, another Republican who has won national acclaim among conservatives.

"These five remarkable individuals will bring a diversity of experiences and perspectives to the convention stage in Tampa, where they will voice their support for Governor Mitt Romney," Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in a press release. "They have each served the public in their own impressive ways, and they all share a dedication to the Republican principles of individual opportunity, responsible government and personal liberty."

The convention slot adds to the attention already raining down on Cruz, who this week further increased his visibility by assuming a new role of sorts for the Romney campaign: mudslinger. 

Cruz on Monday was featured in a Romney campaign email and on Tuesday participated in a media conference call, during which he criticized President Barack Obama over welfare reform. "The president is gutting that reform not because it doesn’t work but precisely because it does work," Cruz said, adding that the president wants to keep poor people "trapped in dependency," according to The Dallas Morning News.

As Larry Sabato of the University of Virgina told the San Antonio Express-News: "It isn't just that Cruz is guaranteed to win the Senate seat, it's that he's Hispanic and as a tea party member, excites and enthuses the Republican base. That is a potent combination for Romney, who has never been able on his own to get the base's thermostat very high."

Culled:

  • If Rick Perry runs again for governor in 2014, he may face some familiar competition: Kinky Friedman. According to the Morning NewsWayne Slater, Friedman — the singer/humorist/perennial politician who ran for governor as an independent in 2006 and for agriculture commissioner as a Democrat in 2010 — thinks Perry is beatable. "I don’t think Perry is going to win, and if he thinks he is, he’s very mistaken," Friedman said, adding that he could be the one to do it, but with a more serious campaign this time: "The main thing is to defuse the idea of being a comedian or even being an independent. I’m an independent-thinking Democrat and I’ve been a Democrat way further than most of my detractors. It would have to be what you show the Democrats during that primary, and if you can show them a different side of Kinky Friedman, and it’s definitely there. Most of us realize the real comedian is already in the Governor’s Mansion."
  • Marvin Wilson, a Texas inmate convicted of murder two decades ago, was put to death Tuesday night despite pleas from his lawyers that he was mentally retarded. Wilson's lawyers had appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, criticizing the standard Texas courts use to determine mental impairment. As the Tribune's Brandi Grissom reported Tuesday, the case even drew the attention of Thomas Steinbeck, son of author John Steinbeck, whose book Of Mice and Men the state used to help set the standards of determining mental disability.
  • With hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants expected to apply for the Obama administration's new deportation deferral program, the latest Tribune interactive shows how many potential beneficiaries there are in Texas and examines the potential impact.

"The same people that tell me I can’t win said Ted Cruz couldn’t win three months ago." — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Paul Sadler to The Dallas Morning News

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