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The Brief: March 15, 2013

Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday told conservative activists to blame their recent electoral losses on the messengers, not the message.

Gov. Rick Perry at the state Capitol on Dec. 19, 2012.

The Big Conversation

Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday told conservative activists to blame their recent electoral losses on the messengers, not the message.

Speaking to a modest yet enthusiastic crowd at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Perry rejected the notion that the 2012 election meant Americans had repudiated conservatism.

"The popular media narrative, it’s that this country has shifted away from conservative ideals, as evidenced by the last two presidential elections. That’s what they think, that’s what they say," he said. "That might be true if Republicans had actually nominated conservative candidates in 2008 and 2012."

The remarks recalled Perry's own failed White House bid, but may also indicate how Perry thinks he could win a future presidential race — if he decides to run again.

Bringing the subject back to Texas, Perry called Medicaid expansion — a major component of federal health care reform — "fiscal coercion" and lashed out at several Republican governors who have recently backpedaled on their opposition to the provision.

"Unfortunately, some of our friends and allies in the conservative movement have folded in the face of federal bribery and mounting pressure from special-interest groups," he said.

The governor, however, offered some of his clearest recommendations yet for overhauling Medicaid, saying the Obama administration should give the state flexibility to "innovate and enact patient-centered, market-driven reforms" like health savings accounts and co-pays. Perry also expanded on some of these ideas in a letter sent to members of Texas' congressional delegation before his speech.

"The best way to help states provide health care is to allow states to design better, more efficient, more effective care using Medicaid dollars," Perry said at CPAC. "This will allow each state to tailor the program to specifically serve the needs of those unique challenges that those states have.

Culled

•    El Paso Legislator Arrested on DWI Charge (The Texas Tribune): "State Rep. Naomi Gonzalez, D-El Paso, released a statement regarding her arrest on Thursday, saying that the recent events were 'concerning' for her. 'However, I would like to say first that my thoughts and prayers go out to the other persons involved,' she said in the statement. 'I hope you understand, I won't be commenting further until the legal matters have been resolved.'"

•    Storify: Campus Carry Bills Debated in House (The Texas Tribune): "Four bills that would ease restrictions on the carrying of concealed weapons on college and university campuses were debated Thursday in the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety."

•    Texas House committee approves $2B water fund (The Associated Press): "Lawmakers took the first step Thursday to setting up a $2 billion fund to finance water projects across the state. Members of the House Natural Resources Committee approved a plan that would take the money from the state’s Rainy Day Fund and create the State Water Infrastructure Fund of Texas, intended to leverage bond financing for new reservoirs, pipelines, desalination plants and conservation projects."

•    Immigration judges told to reduce dockets by closing cases (Houston Chronicle): "New guidelines given to the nation's immigration judges 'strongly encouraged' them to reduce clogged dockets by closing cases — without consent from prosecutors if necessary — a move experts say could have a significant effect on immigration courts."

Quote of the Day: "I am not a sixth grader. Congress is in the business of making the law. The Supreme Court interprets the law. If they strike down the law, they strike down the law." — U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., during an exchange with Sen. Ted Cruz at a gun hearing on Thursday 

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