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The Brief: Nov. 30, 2015

GOP presidential candidates condemned the Friday attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado while rejecting the idea that escalating rhetoric on abortion might have played a role in the attack.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, left, speaks at a campaign event on Nov. 28, 2015, in Iowa as U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, far right, looks …

The Big Conversation

GOP presidential candidates who have been among the harshest critics of Planned Parenthood condemned the Friday attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo., while rejecting the idea that escalating rhetoric on abortion might have played a role in the attack.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz was one of those candidates. On Saturday morning, he became the first candidate to talk about the shooting, which has claimed three lives. Later in the day, he told reporters, as reported by the Tribune's Patrick Svitek, that, “We don’t know ... what those motives were, but whatever they were, it’s unacceptable, and it’s horrific and wrong. I have spent much of my adult life working in law enforcement, working against murderers and those who commit violent crime, and that one officer lost his life is particularly tragic."

On Sunday, he told reporters, "The media promptly wants to blame him on the pro-life movement when at this point there’s very little evidence to indicate that," a reference to accused shooter Robert Dear.

Cruz further cautioned against drawing conclusions about the shooter's motivations based on preliminary reports, adding, "It’s also been reported that he was registered as an independent and a woman and a transgendered leftist activist. If that’s what he is, I don’t think it’s fair to blame on the rhetoric on the left. This is a murderer.”

Carly Fiorina, another prominent Planned Parenthood critic among the GOP field, responded forcefully on Sunday to comments from Planned Parenthood officials that criticized politicians who are "claiming this tragedy has nothing to do with the toxic environment they helped create."

As The Washington Post's Jose A. DelReal reported, Fiorina said, "This is so typical of the left to immediately begin demonizing a messenger because they don’t agree with the message. The vast majority of Americans agree what Planned Parenthood is doing is wrong."

Candidate Ben Carson, meanwhile, addressed the issue by talking more generally about the lack of consensus in the nation. “We get into our separate corners and we hate each other, we want to destroy those with whom we disagree. ... If we can get rid of the rhetoric from either side and actually talk about the facts, I think that's when we begin to make progress."

And then there was this from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who told CNN, "What he is did is absolutely abominable, especially to those of us in the pro-life movement, because there's nothing about any of us that would condone or in any way look the other way at something like this."

Disclosure: Planned Parenthood was a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune in 2011. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Trib Must Reads

Analysis: A Different Kind of Holiday Prep, by Ross Ramsey – While you’re making your way through your holiday logistics, the state’s political people are swinging into high gear, with just three months left before voters decide the fates of their candidates.

Citizenship Questions Continue to Follow Cruz, by Patrick Svitek – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz believes it is a settled issue that he is a natural-born citizen and thus eligible for the presidency. Yet his supporters — and critics — are still pressing him on the specifics surrounding his birth, which was outside the country to a mother who was born in the United States.

Texas Lawmakers Seek Abbott's Blessing on Oil Theft Crackdown, by Jim Malewitz – Oil rustlers of Texas beware: State lawmakers want to crack down on the those who swipe hundreds of barrels of black gold to sell on the black market. But first, they need the governor’s blessing.

Cruz Rips Rubio Over Attack Ad on National Security, by Patrick Svitek – Ted Cruz and his campaign are offering his harshest and most extensive criticism yet of Marco Rubio since the U.S. Senate colleagues began clashing over immigration and national security issues.

For Detained Immigrants on Hunger Strikes, Results Aren't Guaranteed, by Julián Aguilar – How effective are hunger strikes by immigration detainees? Recent evidence seems to suggest they work for some groups but make matters worse for others.

Interactive: How Many Texans Resemble You?, by Becca Aaronson – There are more than 25 million people living in Texas — but how many of them are just like you? Use our interactive to see the Texans who share your demographic characteristics.

With Federal Funding Elusive, Professors Crowdfund Research, by Matthew Watkins – With federal funding more difficult to obtain, University of Texas at Austin researchers are resorting to crowdfunding to pay for their projects.  

New Super PAC Wants Perry Back in the Presidential Race, by Patrick Svitek – A new super PAC hopes it can persuade former Gov. Rick Perry to re-enter the 2016 presidential race.

The Day Ahead

•    Gov. Greg Abbott will embark on his three-day trip to Cuba, where he will meet with various government and business leaders to promote trade between Texas and Cuba. 

Elsewhere

Texas to refugee groups: If you let in a Syrian, we might sue youHouston Chronicle

Texas ethics panel studies donors financing Attorney General Ken Paxton's defense, The Dallas Morning News

Cruz solidifying evangelical supportSan Antonio Express-News

Suicides and attempts on the rise in Texas prisonsThe Dallas Morning News

Ben Carson’s appeal runs deep in TexasAustin American-Statesman

As open carry in Texas looms, Tarrant residents are armed and readyFort Worth Star-Telegram

Court case eventually could result in $1.1 billion hit to state treasurySan Antonio Express-News

New strategies aim to steer mentally ill to treatment, not jailHouston Chronicle

Parents criticize zero scores given to students who refuse STAARAustin American-Statesman

Immigrants hoping to organize, exert political powerHouston Chronicle

Control over access to seabed, harvest at issue in Texas, The Associated Press

Questions and pitfalls surround $21 million soccer dealSan Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

"I have never breathed a breath of air on the planet Earth where I was not an American citizen. It was the act of being born to my mother that made me a citizen.”

— U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, responding to questions about his eligibility to be president.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A conversation about Health Care: The Next Five Years on Dec. 2 at the Texas A&M Health Science Center in Round Rock

•    A series of conversations about Bridging the Digital Divide on Dec. 4 at Houston Community College

•    A daylong symposium on Cybersecurity and Privacy on Dec. 9 at the University of Texas at San Antonio

•    A conversation about Houston & the Legislature: What's Next? on Dec. 15 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston

•    A conversation with former White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove on Dec. 17 at the Austin Club

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