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The Brief: Sept. 17, 2012

With foreign policy still in the foreground of the presidential race, Ted Cruz offered Mitt Romney a show of support on Friday.

Ted Cruz at the JW Marriott hotel in Houston on May 29, 2012.

The Big Conversation:

With foreign policy still in the foreground of the presidential race, U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz offered Mitt Romney a show of support on Friday.

Cruz, speaking at an annual gathering of religious conservatives in Washington, D.C., revived Romney's criticism of President Barack Obama's handling of unrest in the Middle East, which is still convulsing after a wave of attacks on U.S. and European diplomatic posts over the past week.

"There are radicals throughout the world — Islamic terrorists that would murder each and every one of us. And it says something that we have a president of the United States that is utterly unable to utter the words 'radical Islamic terrorist,'" Cruz said, according to The Dallas Morning News, adding, "If memory serves, it wasn’t a random collection of Boy Scouts on those airplanes."

Cruz's comments also echoed those of Gov. Rick Perry, who last week effectively blamed Obama for the recent violence.

Romney, whose initial statement on the events last week drew criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, has previously used Cruz to drum up support among Tea Party supporters. Cruz's assist this time came as the Romney campaign appeared poised to turn the statement controversy into a broader attack on Obama's foreign policy.

But on Sunday, the Romney campaign — already beset by hand-wringing among conservatives over recent polls showing the race moving slightly in Obama's favor — was faced with another political eruption, this time over a Politico story on infighting within the campaign. As The New York Times reports, advisers now hope a new plan to re-emphasize the candidate's economic proposals will help shift the the race in Romney's favor.


  • Embattled Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin lashes out at U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, in a new campaign fundraising email, the Morning News reports. Akin — who lost the support of the Republican establishment, including Cornyn, after making controversial remarks last month about rape — writes to supporters in the email that "rather than swallowing their pride and admitting they were wrong to not help Todd Akin, Party Bosses are doubling down." Cornyn, whom Akin derides in the email as a "Washington insider," told Politico last week that the senatorial committee had officially withdrawn from the race, which Republicans had at one point viewed as an easy win.
  • Lubbock County Judge Tom Head's recent comment that the re-election of President Barack Obama could spark a civil war appears to have provided West Texas Democrats with a shot of energy. "Obviously, it was embarrassing. But his comments have certainly helped our party because we have moderate Republicans scratching their heads wondering how people like Tom Head get elected," Lubbock County Democratic Party Chairman Kenny Ketner told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Ketner added that the party has even started receiving donations from outside the state.
  • As the Tribune's Jay Root reported Friday, state Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, blanketed the state Capitol last week with flyers promoting his real estate company. In the flyers, Hilderbran, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, encourages fellow lawmakers to use his business to find housing in Austin. Hilderbran denied any wrongdoing, but Fred Lewis, an Austin lawyer and ethics reform advocate, raised concerns. "It is not a good idea to comingle public official duties and private work," Lewis said.

"I think that one kind of speaks for itself, that when the governor of the most economically powerful state in the Union comes to your part of the world." — Gov. Rick Perry to the San Antonio Express-News on why he recently visited Italy to tout Texas business


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