The Big Conversation
Donald Trump aimed a jab this week at GOP presidential rival Ted Cruz over his Canadian birth, an indication that the relationship between the two men has become more strained in the run up to the Iowa caucuses.
Talking to The Washington Post before a Monday night rally, Trump suggested that GOP voters need to take into consideration Cruz's birthplace in deciding who they want as the nominee. He told The Post:
“It’d be a very precarious one for Republicans because he’d be running and the courts may take a long time to make decision. You don’t want to be running and have that kind of thing over your head.”
He denied to The Post that he was launching a personal attack on Cruz or that he was making a "birther" argument similar to what he raised against President Barack Obama during his first term in office.
Cruz has addressed the circumstances of his birth earlier in the campaign. He was born in Canada to a U.S. mother and Cuban father. He has said that being born to a U.S. mother satisfies the Constitutional requirement that he be a "natural-born citizen." He formally renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2014.
On Tuesday, Cruz's initial response was a tweet referencing the "jumping the shark" episode of "Happy Days," which has since become a larger cultural reference to something that has made an irretrievable turn away from its peak of popularity.
The Tribune's Patrick Svitek reported that Cruz "refused to respond to Trump's citizenship remarks beyond his tweet and chastised reporters for blowing the back-and-forth out of proportion. 'One of the things the media loves to do is gaze at their navels for hours on end by a tweet from Donald Trump or from me or from anybody else,' Cruz said. 'Who cares?'
"'Why do it?' Cruz asked of his jump-the-shark tweet. 'Because the best way to respond to this kind of attack is laugh it off and to move on to the issues that matter.'"
Trib Must Reads
Grand Jury to Reconvene Over Sandra Bland Case, by Johnathan Silver — The grand jury decided in December not to indict anyone for Bland’s death. But the door remains open for other charges, special prosecutor Darrell Jordan said, though details of what the grand jury is examining are confidential.
Dallas Rally Will be Rubio's First Public Campaign Stop in Texas, by Jordan Rudner — While Ted Cruz spends the week crisscrossing Iowa ahead of that state's caucuses, Marco Rubio is making his first major play for Cruz's home turf with a campaign rally Wednesday in Dallas.
Analysis: For Politicians, No Statute of Limitations on Comments, by Ross Ramsey — All of us have to watch our mouths — particularly politicians. State Rep. Jonathan Stickland is under political fire for past online comments. He's apologized, but time is the enemy here for the Bedford Republican, who's facing a primary challenge.
Paxton Asked About Crosses on Sheriff's Cars, by Johnathan Silver — A district attorney in West Texas is asking Attorney General Ken Paxton's opinion on whether sheriff's deputies can sport cross-shaped stickers on their patrol cars.
Athletic Director is Out at Texas A&M, by Matthew Watkins — Texas A&M Athletic Director Eric Hyman will leave his post, university officials announced Tuesday, wrapping up a stint during which A&M grew its college sports profile but at times failed to meet expectations on the field.
Texas Officials Criticize Obama's Executive Order on Guns, by Matthew Watkins — Texas' elected leaders lashed out Tuesday at President Obama's executive orders prompting more background checks during gun purchases. But those officials offered no specifics on how they planned to fight Obama's actions.
Obama, Davis Ask Supreme Court to Reject Texas Abortion Law, by Alexa Ura — Intervening in what could be a landmark decision, the Obama administration, state and federal lawmakers and medical experts are among those who filed amicus briefs urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Texas’ 2013 abortion law.
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan to Make Texas Fundraising Swing, by Abby Livingston — During an upcoming U.S. House recess this month, House Speaker Paul Ryan will make several stops in some of the richest pockets of the state: Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Midland and San Antonio.
Cruz Goes on the Air in New Hampshire With "Invasion" Ad, by Patrick Svitek — Ted Cruz's presidential campaign is launching its first major TV ad in New Hampshire, a dramatic spot that seeks to shore up his border security credentials in a Republican primary race that has been dominated by the issue for months.
The Day Ahead
• GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio appears at a North Dallas public rally at 4:30 p.m. It is his first public campaign event in Texas as a White House hopeful.
• The Texas Public Policy Foundation kicks off its three-day Policy Orientation 2016 at the Hilton Austin. In addition to public policy panels on topics like Medicaid and college affordability, the luncheon keynote will be delivered by Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer.
How Ted Cruz Became Ted Cruz, Politico
Rubio taps current, former state lawmakers to lead presidential bid in Texas, The Dallas Morning News
Obama's plan sparks renewed debate over 'gun show loophole', Houston Chronicle
Ken Paxton again seeks to block legal fees in redistricting case, Austin American-Statesman
Group of Hispanic voters seeks docs in Pasadena voting rights suit, Houston Chronicle
Kennedy: Sheriff’s absence at first forum unmentioned but not unnoticed, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Progreso ISD granted restraining order against TEA, San Antonio Express-News
Mother of 'affluenza' teen agrees to be sent back to Texas, The Associated Press
Wylys, IRS heading into epic court battle, The Dallas Morning News
Quote to Note
"El Franco was very conservative with money. Very conservative. And (he) has accumulated a lot of money in his budget. But the thing about it is, he was on top of his game."
— Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack on reports that his colleague El Franco Lee had managed to accumulate $3.9 million in his campaign account over his 30-year tenure as commissioner. Lee died on Sunday of an apparent heart attack.
News From Home
• Voters will be settling many political and policy disputes this year, from the presidential nominating contests to legislative races, from comebacks to grudge matches. You be the pundit: Take our quiz and predict what will happen.
Trib Events for the Calendar
• A conversation with state Reps. Celia Israel, Eddie Rodriguez and Paul Workman on Jan. 14 at St. Edward's University in Austin
• A Symposium on Urban Public Education on Jan. 22 at the University of Texas at El Paso
• The Texas Tribune's second Texas-centric Trivia Night on Jan. 31 at The Highball in Austin
• The Ticket: A Live Recording and Democratic Primary Debate Watch Party on Feb. 11 at KUT Public Media Studios in Austin
• A conversation with Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. and Rep. Jose Manuel Lozano on Feb. 25 at Texas A&M University-Kingsville
• A Conversation with Sen. Carlos Uresti and Rep. Poncho Nevárez on March 23 at Sul Ross State University in Alpine
• A Symposium on Transportation on March 29 at Texas A&M University in College Station