Critics of his leadership should look at the conservative record of the Texas House under three terms of his speakership, Joe Straus told an audience at the Texas Tribune Festival Saturday.
“We aren’t interested in labels; we are interested in results,” said the San Antonio Republican, who faces two primary challengers in March. “But I don't think we can view results of Texas House over the last several sessions as anything other than conservative."
Straus has been a frequent target of Tea Party lawmakers and conservative activists who argue that he obstructs red-meat legislation important to GOP voters. In a one-on-one conversation with Tribune Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith, Straus fired back at his detractors.
“They want someone they can control. They want someone they can hand a list to and say 'Here’s what you are going to do,' and I don’t work that way,” he said.
In a wide-ranging discussion, Straus weighed in on various issues:
- How Jeb Bush is faring — “I’m proud of him," said Straus who is backing Bush in the 2016 GOP presidential contest. Frontrunner Donald Trump reflects that "we are still in the entertainment phase."
- Will he vote for Trump if he's nominated — “I always support the party’s nominee."
- Advice for faculty members who oppose Campus Carry — “Go talk to the president of their campus to whom we gave a lot of authority and flexibility to design a plan."
- Will private school vouchers pass next session — “I don’t think the votes are there.”
- Dark money in campaign finance — “ I believe in unlimited contributions and immediate disclosure of them...anything that’s involved in trying to impact an election that’s political I think there ought to be unlimited contributions."
- Being Jewish — Straus said he's not put off by descriptions of Texas as a Christian state, and doesn't view the Republican party’s emphasis on Christianity as a problem: “It isn’t if people are careful and do what the Pope said and follow the golden rule."