The Big Conversation
A week after Donald Trump decided to make Ted Cruz's Canadian birth an issue in the GOP presidential primary race, the issue just won't seem to go away.
On Monday, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad became the latest to say questions about Cruz are "fair game," joining others such as GOP presidential rival Rand Paul and Senate critic John McCain in keeping the issue alive.
For his part, Trump has continued to raise the issue in recent days. The Washington Post referred to a rally on Sunday where the following happened:
"Is he a natural-born citizen?" he asked several thousand people gathered in a ballroom. Members of the crowd shouted back, "No!"
"I don't know," Trump said. "Honestly, we don't know. Who the hell knows."
Cruz has consistently called the matter of his eligibility to serve "settled law" as his mother was a U.S. citizen even though he was born on foreign soil. Presidential candidates such as McCain or Barry Goldwater were born in U.S. territories and considered "natural born citizens." But George Romney never got far enough in the 1968 primary contest for the matter of his Mexican birth to U.S. parents to be definitively settled.
As the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported, Cruz has decided to present the controversy as evidence of his rising status in the nomination fight.
“Three weeks ago, almost every Republican candidate was attacking Donald Trump,” said Cruz. “Today, almost every Republican candidate is attacking me. That kind of suggests maybe something has changed in the race.”
Cruz also pushed back against Branstad's comments, noting that the Iowa governor's son is supporting Chris Christie for president. Also, Eric Branstad is the state director for America's Renewable Future, a pro-ethanol group that has been sparring with Cruz over his opposition to the federal government setting a minimum amount of ethanol to be blended into the U.S. fuel supply.
The Post wrote, "Branstad's son 'is leading the effort of lobbyists and Democrats to run attack ads against our campaign because they're supporting a more moderate candidate,' (Cruz) said. 'They’re entitled to do that and they’re entitled to engage in whatever attacks they want. It's the nature of politics.'"
Trib Must Reads
GOP Leaders Mostly Quiet on Abbott Plan to Amend Constitution, by Edgar Walters — Three days after Gov. Greg Abbott called for a convention of states to dramatically amend the U.S. Constitution, few high-ranking Republicans in Texas have backed his proposal.
Cruz Campaign Eyes New Hampshire Opening, by Patrick Svitek — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is hoping to beat expectations in New Hampshire, a state where his fire-breathing brand of evangelically tinged conservatism has not traditionally been an ideal fit.
Oncor Airs Concerns with Ray Hunt Takeover Plan, by Jim Malewitz — Top officials at Oncor, Texas’ largest electric utility, aired concerns on Monday with Dallas billionaire Ray L. Hunt’s $18 billion proposal to take over and reshape their company.
Sam Johnson Gives Ted Cruz Seventh Congressional Endorsement, by Patrick Svitek — U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Richardson, is throwing his support behind Ted Cruz for president, giving the U.S. senator from Texas the seventh congressional endorsement from his home state.
Texas Rangers forward McKinney pool party investigation to Collin County prosecutors, The Dallas Morning News
Blue Bell says ice cream safe despite potential concern, The Associated Press
Virus linked to birth defects emerges in Harris County, Houston Chronicle
Austin district’s enrollment to continue downward spiral, Austin American-Statesman
Health plans’ narrow networks a struggle for consumers, San Antonio Express-News
Former Harris district judge arrested on drug charge, Houston Chronicle
Ted Cruz is running an well-organized campaign. His super PACs — not so much., The Washington Post
Julian Castro Warns Latinos Would Suffer if G.O.P. Abandons Health Law, The New York Times
Quote to Note
"I really have a lot of faith in voters going forward in these primaries, and I think you’re gonna see — whether it’s Mr. Trump or others — the cream will rise to the top."
—House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, telling Politico on Monday evening that he will support the GOP nominee for president, even if it turns out to be Donald Trump
Today in TribTalk
Time for Texas to take the lead in amending the U.S. Constitution, by Paul Workman — I applaud Gov. Greg Abbott’s recently announced initiative for the states to take the lead in amending the U.S. Constitution. The truth is, we have become a nation with a powerful, centralized government, which was never our founders’ intent.
News From Home
• The state's 38 private colleges can opt out of a new state law that will allow concealed handgun license owners to carry guns in buildings on college campuses. No private college has announced plans to allow guns on its grounds. Here is a look at where things stand with each campus.
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 Conversation with Steve McCraw, Texas DPS Director on Jan. 21 at the Austin Club
• A Conversation with Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Jan. 21 at the Austin Club
• 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
• A Conversation with Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer on Feb. 4 at the Austin Club
• A Conversation with Sen. José Menéndez on Feb. 11 at the Austin Club
• 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