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The Brief: Oct. 29, 2015

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz walked away from Wednesday's GOP presidential debate in Boulder, Colo., having created one of the evening's signature moments when he took on debate moderators for their choice of questions.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at the third GOP presidential debate in Boulder, Colorado, on Oct…

The Big Conversation

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz walked away from Wednesday's GOP presidential debate in Boulder, Colo., having created one of the evening's signature moments when he took on debate moderators for their choice of questions.

"The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media. This is not a cage match ... The questions shouldn’t be getting people to tear into each other,” Cruz said, as reported by Politico.

The Tribune's Patrick Svitek wrote, "Cruz's media criticism drew loud applause at the University of Colorado Boulder, where the GOP field gathered for the CNBC-hosted event. It was an especially spirited moment compared to his first two debates, during which Cruz hit his talking points but stopped short of delivering breakout performances."

The Cruz strategy of taking the moderators to task for trying to pit candidates against each other had the appearance of having been thought out in advance. In his preview of the debate earlier in the day, Svitek noted that Cruz supporters had predicted that he would "ramp up the contrasts on his own timeline — and certainly not at the urging of debate moderators hungry for conflict."

The result was what Republican pollster Frank Luntz reported was the highest score from a live dial group that he's recorded in almost 20 years. The Cruz campaign reported that the confrontation already had made an impact on the fundraising front, telling Svitek they had raised more than a half million dollars less than two hours after the debate's conclusion.

Trib Must Reads

Environmental Consultant Gets More Work from Texas, by Neena Satija – A Massachusetts consulting firm that was paid $1.65 million by state environmental regulators to help fight federal smog standards is getting more work from Texas, this time exploring how much arsenic it takes to cause cancer.

Oil or Gas Well? The Distinction Costs State Millions, by Jim Malewitz – By filing a one-page form, some producers can have their oil wells reclassified as gas wells and potentially reap huge tax savings. More such requests are being granted, and the Texas budget might start feeling the pain.

Texas Asks Permission to Cut Therapy Budget, by Edgar Walters – Texas officials have asked an appeals court for permission to proceed with cutting payments to a therapy program for children with disabilities — the latest development in an ongoing lawsuit over the budget state lawmakers crafted this year.

Most Texas Republicans Oppose Boehner's Last Budget, by Abby Livingston – Securing passage of one of his final pieces of legislation on a 266-to-167 vote, Speaker John Boehner calmed the congressional waters some for Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, his likely successor.

Feds: Kicking Planned Parenthood Out of Medicaid May Be Illegal, by Alexa Ura – The Obama administration has warned state leaders that pushing Planned Parenthood out of the state’s Medicaid program could put Texas at odds with federal law.

Court Again Denies DNA Tests in Death Row Case, by Johnathan Silver – The state's highest criminal court on Wednesday reversed for a second time a state district judge’s order that would have allowed East Texas death row inmate Larry Swearingen to test DNA from evidence in his murder case.

EPA to Require Toxic Release Reporting from Gas Plants, by Kiah Collier – Hundreds of gas plants across the country — and as many as 180 in Texas — soon will have to alert the federal government if they discharge, produce or handle certain toxic chemicals like benzene or hydrogen sulfide.  

The Day Ahead

•    Join us for a breakfast conversation with Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht at the Austin Club in downtown Austin. The 8 a.m. question and answer session will also be streamed online for those unable to attend in person.

•    Land Commissioner George P. Bush will co-teach a Texas history class, "Opportunity in Texas: Land and Its Legacy in Texas History" with K-12 Outreach Coordinator Buck ColeThe 2 p.m. class will be livestreamed by the Texas General Land Office (GLO) via YouTube.

Elsewhere

 Trump leads immigration discussion at third GOP debate, The Dallas Morning News 

AP FACT CHECK: The Republican debaters and the facts, The Associated Press

Texas chief justice settles ethics fine, San Antonio Express-News

Rap song says Ted Cruz is ‘gift from God’, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Anti-abortion group opens facility in former Planned Parenthood site, Houston Chronicle

Katy student alleges school activity called faith into question, Houston Chronicle

Abbott eyes five school officials — two from Dallas — for Texas education commissioner, The Dallas Morning News

Texas schools get so-so ratings on national education report card, Austin American-Statesman

Quote to Note

"I started dialing debates in 1996. That is the highest primary debate score I've ever registered. ... He said what every conservative has been thinking. And he said it so well. ... They really hate these moderators."

– Republican pollster Frank Luntz on viewer response to Ted Cruz's criticism of the media at Wednesday's GOP debate. He said the attack scored 97/98 out of 100 with his Des Moines live dial group.

Today in TribTalk

Abbott's campaign against sanctuary cities is misguided, by Rafael Anchia — One of the reasons for this state’s success, among a list that includes our abundance of oil and gas, a world-class infrastructure and our shared border with our No. 1 trading partner, Mexico, is our hardworking and productive immigrant population — a fact the governor not only ignores but seeks to distort for political purposes. The agricultural, hospitality and housing sectors, to name a few, indisputably depend on immigrant labor for their success.

Abbott's stand against sanctuary cities protects communities, by Jason Villalba — The reason illegal immigration has catapulted to the No. 1 issue in America is not because of esoteric concerns about racism or xenophobia. It is because moms and dads across the nation want to tuck their children in at night with the knowledge that their community is safe and that law enforcement authorities are doing everything within their power to keep those who would seek us harm away from our little ones.

Patent troll venue abuse must stop in the Eastern District of Texas, by Lee Cheng — For too many patent trolls, the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX) has been the source of high win rates and large damage awards.

News From Home

If you missed it the first time, be sure to check out Starstruck, the Trib’s first fully immersive multimedia experience. It combines breathtaking timelapse video, sweeping photography and take-you-there audio — and represents a seismic shift in telling a story, this one of Texas once again becoming the center of an emerging space industry.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A conversation on Transforming Texas Hospitals at the Texas Medical Center in Houston on Nov. 10

•    A discussion about Public Education: The Next Five Years on Nov. 13 at the University of Texas at El Paso

•    A daylong higher education symposium on Nov. 16 at Baylor University in Waco

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