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The Brief: Aug. 10, 2015

Following a relatively muted debate performance Thursday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz addressed a packed and enthusiastic room Saturday at the RedState Gathering in Atlanta as part of his swing through Southern states.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a 2016 presidential candidate, speaking at the RedState Gathering in Atlanta on Aug. 8, 2015.

The Big Conversation

Following a relatively muted debate performance Thursday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz addressed a packed and enthusiastic room Saturday at the RedState Gathering in Atlanta as part of his swing through Southern states. 

And his message, report the Medill News Service's Dean DeChiaro and Emily Hoerner, was that Republican voters should "hold other Republican presidential hopefuls accountable" and ensure they actually have a conservative record: 

[Cruz] urged the GOP activists at the conference to scrutinize candidates’ records to determine whether they — and not just their rhetoric — truly represent conservatives.

“The men and women in this room can play a critical role leading the conservative movement in assessing the records of every candidate,” Cruz said.

Cruz spent only a small portion of his speech attacking Hillary Clinton and Democrats. He saved his sharpest jabs for establishment Republicans who he said “aren’t on our side.” ...

Cruz’s comments drew wild applause from the audience members, who at one point started chanting “Ted! Ted! Ted!” — the first such reaction for a candidate all weekend.

The Washington Examiner's Byron York called it a "knockout speech" in which he kept "his message light enough to stay on the entertaining side of angry," noting that people stood up several times throughout his speech.

Former Gov. Rick Perry also spoke at the gathering, slamming President Barack Obama for "demonizing the opposition at every turn" and telling the attendees that the GOP needs to replace him with a uniter, not a "Republican divider." And Gov. Greg Abbott told the activists that Texas "has become ground zero for the Tea Party movement." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has more coverage of other speakers at the gathering.

Cruz, meanwhile, has a few more days on his tour of Southern states, which the Tribune's Patrick Svitek reported on last week. Cruz spoke to more than 1,000 supporters Sunday in Huntsville, Alabama, and will end the tour Thursday in Oklahoma.

Trib Must-Reads

Analysis: Paxton's Supporters Protecting an Investment, by Ross Ramsey — Some of the supporters who jumped fastest to defend Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton are also those who invested the most in his campaign for office. They're protecting a substantial political investment.

Planned Parenthood Out of Cancer Screening Program, by Alexa Ura, Annie Daniel and Mallory Busch — Poor, uninsured women in Texas will no longer be able to obtain government-subsidized breast and cervical cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood clinics starting Sept. 1. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series.

Five Changes to How Politicians Are Prosecuted, by Jay Root — Greg Abbott called on the 2015 Legislature to reform itself with new ethics laws, and reform it did: It created one set of procedures for politicians and another for everybody else. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series.

New Truancy Law Set to Put Pressure on Schools, Parents, by Terri Langford — When the state's new truancy law takes effect Sept. 1, students will no longer potentially face criminal sanctions for skipping school. But there are new directives for public schools and the courts.  This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series.

Behind Medicaid Cuts, a Fight Over Child Therapy, by Edgar Walters — Before the state finalizes a decision next week that would slash payments for a therapy program for the poor, speech and physical therapists are fighting back, saying the impending budget cuts will harm thousands of children.

Capitol Car Fire Investigated as Intentional, by Ross Ramsey and Julián Aguilar — Officials suspect the fire was set by someone whom they ran out of the building earlier in the day after the individual was seen poking around the speaker's offices and apartment.

Chin Scratcher: Prison Beard Policy Will Cost $500,000, by Terri Langford — Thanks to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Texas prison inmates will be able to grow beards under a new policy expected to cost state taxpayers $500,000 a year in paperwork, beard nets and barber tools.

Feds: Releasing Families Will Lead to More Illegal Migration, by Julián Aguilar — The immediate release of immigrant families from detention facilities could cause another massive wave of illegal migration like the one Texas witnessed last summer, the Obama administration argued in a court filing late Thursday. Published

Elsewhere

Can George P. make Jeb the 3rd Bush to win the White House?, The Associated Press

For some Iowa evangelicals, Ted Cruz is an answered prayer, Austin American-Statesman

Ted Cruz leads pack in Texas money race, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Abbott fails to give parents more petition power over schools, Austin American-Statesman

Watchdog makes big waves with small resources, San Antonio Express-News

Texas Racing Commission prepares to close as political fight escalates, Houston Chronicle

'Brisket Bandit' illustrates system's inability to stop repeat offenders, Houston Chronicle

Slain teen’s friends fill Arlington church; video of break-in released, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Abbott to keynote Christian conservative political training event for pastors, The Dallas Morning News

Documents shed light on police concerns over biker showdown, San Antonio Express-News

Low-income families slip through cracks of housing rules, Houston Chronicle

Enrollment caps at popular schools cause uncertainty for some parents, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

"This is a wide-open race — great talent out there, but this is a wide-open race. The question for the people of Iowa is do you want a seasoned executive running this country or do you want to take a chance on a young, inexperienced United States senator? The records matter."

— Former Gov. Rick Perry speaking in Iowa over the weekend and saying he's "shooting for the top"

News From Home

•      In the first week of the Tribune's 31 Days, 31 Ways series, we wrote about a new law to train law enforcement on dog encountersmapped where more than 1 million Texans who purchased Obamacare health plans are, and covered much more. Revisit the first week's stories here.

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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