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The Brief: Aug. 7, 2015

The two Texans on the separate GOP debate stages Thursday didn't throw many punches at fellow Republicans in the first debates of the 2016 cycle.

The first GOP presidential debate of the 2016 election cycle in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 6, 2015. Seven candidates didn't meet debate sponsor Fox News' polling criteria and met in this separate debate.

The Big Conversation

The two Texans on the separate GOP debate stages Thursday didn't throw many punches at fellow Republicans.

Speaking at the earlier debate, former Gov. Rick Perry talked up Texas' economic performance under his tenure, saying "nobody's done it like Rick Perry's done it." Perry continued to blast Donald Trump, who was in the later debate, but Perry avoided directly attacking the six others who joined him on stage.

And as The Associated Press notes, there was no "oops moment for Perry," who "appeared confident and well-rehearsed."

The often-combative U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, meanwhile, decided to stay "largely above the fray while a handful of foes brawled in made-for-TV moments." The Tribune's Patrick Svitek has more on Cruz's performance:

It was not entirely a surprise — Cruz has sworn off what he calls "Republican-on-Republican violence" — but it offered the clearest example yet of his approach to a fractured GOP field led by unpredictable billionaire Donald Trump. While Trump lobbed insults at candidates and moderators, Cruz managed to duck the rancor and convey his central pitch to Republican primary voters with little difficulty.

“We see lots of campaign conservatives, but if we’re going to win in 2016, we need a consistent conservative," Cruz said as the debate clock wound down, giving him one last chance to drive home his anti-establishment appeal. ...

After the debate, Cruz allies argued his performance showed what he has claimed all along — that he will not get bogged down in nasty intra-party squabbles on the path to the White House.

"He came across as a statesman," spokesman Rick Tyler told reporters. "He didn’t engage in the kind of back-and-forth bickering and arguing.”

The Washington Post wrote that Cruz spoke little, but when "he did, he stuck hard to talking points and stump speech lines he repeatedly uses."

Trib Must-Reads

Cruz Sets Sight on "SEC Primary" States, by Patrick Svitek — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is hitting the road after the first Republican presidential debate hoping to build support in several southern states that will all hold primaries on March 1, 2016.

Clinton Campaign Headed for Rio Grande Valley, by Patrick Svitek and Ally Mutnick — In her first swing through the Rio Grande Valley of this campaign, Hillary Clinton plans no public appearances, instead meeting with local donors and officials and attending a fundraiser at the home of a longtime supporter.

New Law Helps Tackle Health Agency Woes, by Sophia Bollag — After being accused of corruption, inefficiency and incompetence, the state health agency's Office of Inspector General is trying to get back on track, and hopes a new law will clarify and streamline its fraud investigations. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series.

Study: Law Discouraged More Than Those Without Voter ID, by Jim Malewitz — Texas’ strict voter identification requirements kept many would-be voters in a Latino-majority congressional district from going to the polls last November — including many who had proper IDs — a new survey shows.

State Jail Commission Board Shuts Down Frio Co. Jail, by Terri Langford — The Texas Commission on Jail Standards voted Thursday to shut down the Frio County Jail for failing to adhere to jail standards, something they agency has done only twice before in its 40-year history.

County Judge Asks State to Resolve Birth Certificate Issue, by Julián Aguilar — Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins has asked the Department of State Health Services to resolve a controversial birth certificate policy the Democrat said could adversely affect North Texas students’ ability to enroll in school later this month. 

Police Associations Ask Rep. Coleman to Apologize, by Liz Crampton — Several law enforcement organizations are calling on state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, to apologize after saying he was "treated like a child" during a traffic stop. But Coleman said he doesn't see a reason why he should apologize.  

The Day Ahead

•      The RedState Gathering in Atlanta, Georgia has several Texans on the agenda, including Gov. Greg Abbott, former Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

•      The Texas Organizing Project holds a rally outside the Waller County Jail on Sunday at 5 p.m. on the one-year anniversary of Mike Brown's death in Ferguson, Missouri.


Texas Watchdog Group Calls Another Political Titan to Account, The New York Times

Donald Trump wasn’t at the early GOP debate, but his presence was, The Dallas Morning News

Perry was centerstage as presidential debate season began, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

In first debate, Rick Perry is top dog but Carly Fiorina shines, Austin American-Statesman

Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and you-know-who won the Google search war, Washington Post

A half-century after Voting Rights Act, black religious leaders say suppression is rampant, The Dallas Morning News

Obama administration celebrates Texas voter ID ruling on Voting Rights Act anniversary, The Dallas Morning News

New texting tool aims to increase millennial voter turnout, Austin American-Statesman

With equal rights ordinance officially on ballot, campaigns gear up, Houston Chronicle

Texas hospitals lose millions to Medicare readmission penalties, though trending down, Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Student says TCU has lifted his suspension for social media comments, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Quote to Note

"Donald Trump is someone who's spent 14 seasons saying, 'You're fired,' and Rick Perry's someone who spent 14 years saying, 'You're hired,' in Texas."

Rob Johnson, a top adviser to former Gov. Rick Perry, contrasting Perry and Donald Trump

Today in TribTalk

•      A stealth attack on voting rights is brewing, by Michael Li — It's been 50 years since the U.S. Supreme Court required states to end discriminatory redistricting practices. But that decision is under attack today in Texas in a case the court will hear this fall.

News From Home

•      In this week's edition of the Trib+Edu newsletter: Public playgrounds experiment with giving kids free range, Head Start benefits proving difficult to demonstrate and an interview with Daniel R. Taber of the University of Texas.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•      The Texas Tribune's Trivia Night on Aug. 30 in Austin 

•      A Conversation with Austin Mayor Steve Adler and San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor on Sept. 4 in Austin

•      A Conversation on The Road from Hurricane Rita on Sept. 22 in Beaumont

•      The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin

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