The Big Conversation:
Tonight's debate between Ted Cruz and Paul Sadler will likely inject some energy into a race that so far has sparked little drama.
Unlike Wednesday's much-anticipated first debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, which pundits have deemed capable of shifting the presidential race, Cruz and Sadler's face-off isn't likely to prove pivotal for either candidate. Barring a colossal misstep, Cruz is still the heavy favorite to claim victory in deep-red Texas.
But the debate — the first of two scheduled before Election Day — will provide Sadler with his first opportunity to directly engage with Cruz, who has so far mostly ignored Sadler's attacks and has instead made Obama his campaign target. As the Tribune's Aman Batheja writes today, Sadler over the past two months has painted Cruz as an extremist and has called him cowardly for turning down an invitation to a third debate, echoing charges Cruz himself lobbed at Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst during their primary. But aside from a small tiff last month over federal student loans, Cruz has largely declined to respond.
"They’re doing what typically is done by a front-runner," Sadler said. "I kind of expected it. But when you call yourself a national debate champion and when you run all over the state because Dewhurst wouldn’t show up, it’s a little ironic. I’ll be nice and call it ironic. Some people might say hypocritical."
Sadler campaign spokesman Chuck McDonald added, "That's what you do when you have the advantage, and I think there's no doubt that the Republican has the advantage on the ticket."
Cruz, meanwhile, has spent the last month fundraising alongside high-profile Texas Republicans, including Dewhurst and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, whom Cruz and Sadler are vying to replace.
The debate will air live at 7 p.m. on WFAA in Dallas, KVUE in Austin and TXCN and will be live-streamed on dallasnews.com. Neither Libertarian John Jay Myers nor Green Party candidate David B. Collins, both also on the ballot, were invited to the forum.
- Gov. Rick Perry on Monday unveiled a set of higher education proposals aimed at making college tuition in Texas more predictable and encouraging students to graduate within four years. At a press conference in Dallas, Perry urged universities to keep tuition at a fixed price for a student's first four years of college and called on schools to tell students how much their tuition will cost depending on how long it takes them to graduate. The governor also renewed calls for 10 percent of state higher education funding to be based on schools' graduation totals and for universities to design $10,000 bachelor's degrees.
- A day after U.S. Rep. Francisco "Quico" Canseco, R-San Antonio, released an ad challenging the Obama administration on energy policy, Canseco's Democratic opponent, state Rep. Pete Gallego of Alpine, has debuted a new spot accusing Canseco of voting against pay raises for soldiers while voting to preserve congressional perks.
- The Hill reports that President Barack Obama has opened up his largest lead yet over Mitt Romney among Hispanics nationwide, according to a weekly tracking poll from the firm Latino Decisions. Obama leads Romney 73-21 among the demographic, a notable bounce from the 65-26 lead Obama held six weeks ago — and even an improvement for Obama over 2008, when he took 67 percent of the Hispanic vote.
"Whether I got elected or not, I hoped they'd all get busy and straighten it out. That hasn't happened yet, and this is my last big effort here." — Former presidential candidate Ross Perot, who's been making the media rounds touting his solution for cutting the national debt
- Texas Fishing Tournaments Lure Competitors, Informers and Fraud, The New York Times
- Redistricting means your polling location may have changed, Houston Chronicle
- The parallel universe where Mitt Romney leads all polls, Politico
- Political magnets draw trouble, Houston Chronicle