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The Brief: Sept. 24, 2012

Miss the Tribune Festival over the weekend? Fret not.

The second annual Texas Tribune Festival kicked off with with a conversation between Gov. Rick Perry and Evan Smith at the AT&T Conference Center in Austin on Sept. 21, 2012.

The Big Conversation:

Miss the Tribune Festival over the weekend? Fret not.

We've thoroughly documented our second annual festival — which featured six topic tracks, more than 40 programs and 120 speakers over three days — for those who were unable to attend or who want a second look.

On Friday, the festival's opening night, Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith sat down for a lively one-on-one with Gov. Rick Perry that began with talk of none other than Satan. Though Perry didn't drop any big news (2014? 2016?) on the audience, he said he would call for a four-year tuition freeze at the state's public universities and reflected on the attacks he launched at Mitt Romney during the GOP primary. 

Our race and immigration track featured one of the festival's most anticipated panels: a discussion with San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro and U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz, two of Texas' brightest rising political stars. Other panel topics included voter ID, the Voting Rights Act, border security and the DREAM Act.

Attorney General Greg Abbott kicked off our health and human services track with a defense of Texas' opposition to federal health care reform. Later in the day, lawmakers and other health officials squared off in a tense debate over family planning.

The public and higher education track featured a spirited debate about standardized testing, a sit-down with the state's former education commissioner and a talk with the six chancellors of the state's largest university systems.

And that's just half of it. Find a recap of the festival here, where you'll also find links to our festival liveblogs, in which our crack team of reporters provided coverage of every panel, including the closing session, an enlightening discussion about the 2012 presidential race.

If you attended or participated in the festivities this weekend, thanks for helping make our second go at this a tremendous success. If you missed it, pencil us in — we'll be doing it again next year.


  • In case you missed it, our own Jay Root has released an e-book on Gov. Rick Perry's failed (and now fabled) presidential campaign. Titled Oops! A Diary From the 2012 Campaign Trail, the book recounts Perry's remarkable rise and fall, and unearths some previously unreported nuggets from the campaign trail, like the sleep disorder that contributed to the governor's problems and the role a gay pollster played in an infamous anti-gay ad the campaign used to gin up support from social conservatives.
  • Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson will appear at a rally today at the University of Texas at Austin, one of 15 stops he's making in a two-week tour of the country, according to the Houston Chronicle. Johnson, the former New Mexico governor and onetime competitor in this year's GOP presidential field, last visited Texas in August to build support for his long-shot bid, with which he's hoping to woo Ron Paul supporters.
  • Democrat John Courage and Republican Donna Campbell, candidates for Senate District 25, recently clashed at a debate in front of the San Antonio Express-News editorial board, one of the few such forums Campbell has agreed to. During the discussion, which centered mainly on taxes, health care and school finance, Courage — widely viewed as the underdog in the race — at one point blasted Campbell as naive for saying she'd like to see redistricting "go away." Campbell said Courage's views "obviously defines larger growth, government growth, in Texas."

"I believe in Satan." — Gov. Rick Perry to Evan Smith at the opening session of the Tribune Festival


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