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The Brief: Ted Cruz Sets Up for Final S.C. Push

The crucial first-in-the-South GOP presidential primary in South Carolina takes place Saturday, and Ted Cruz is working toward a finish that can set him up for the Southern primaries to come on March 1.

Ted Cruz campaigns in Seneca, South Carolina on Feb. 17, 2016.

The Big Conversation

The crucial first-in-the-South GOP presidential primary in South Carolina takes place Saturday, and Ted Cruz is working toward a finish that can set him up for the Southern primaries to come on March 1.

But he must first get through a primary contest that is setting up as the typical nasty, gloves-off affair that is the hallmark of a South Carolina presidential contest. The Tribune’s Patrick Svitek has the rundown:

Cruz is now locked in a no-holds-barred battle with billionaire Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, hurling allegations back and forth with a velocity that would have offended the sensibilities Cruz professed as recently as two months ago. Cruz insists he's still playing clean, a claim prompting increased incredulity as the three candidates barrel toward Saturday. 

On Thursday, the battle became especially pitched between Cruz and Rubio, whose campaign cried foul over a Cruz campaign website that paints Rubio as a "Republican Obama" too willing to partner with Democrats. The website,, shows a photo of the Florida senator shaking hands with President Barack Obama that the Rubio campaign claims was digitally altered.

Meanwhile, the Tribune’s Abby Livingston reports on the Cruz campaign’s “Greenville Strategy,” which has him playing for the same sort of evangelical voters that he targeted successfully in Iowa.

Situated in South Carolina's northwestern corner, a region known colloquially as “the Upstate,” the town of about 62,000 is smaller than better-known cities like Columbia and Charleston. But second only to Des Moines, Iowa, it is the place U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has visited most in his quest for the GOP presidential nomination.

In all, Cruz has attended or held 16 events in Greenville, and the number climbs if nearby towns are counted. The only other destination in that ballpark is Des Moines, where he attended at least 21 events during his 10-month courtship of Iowa.

An advantage of the strategy is that it allows Cruz to rack up delegates in this area of the state and thus mute the overall advantage of Trump, who is up by double digits in polls just ahead of the primary contest.

Trib Must Reads

Less Than 5 Percent of Texas Prison Inmates are Undocumented, by Nicole Cobler — About 4.6 percent of Texas prison inmates are undocumented immigrants with standing requests that they be turned over to federal authorities when their sentences are served. This story is part of our "Bordering on Insecurity" series.

Analysis: The Winner-Take-Some Texas Primaries, by Ross Ramsey — Republicans and the Democrats will probably award delegates to the top presidential candidates in proportion to the votes they receive. Winning just one vote in five might sound bad in the headlines, but it could add to the all-important delegate tallies.

18 Texas Correctional Officers Disciplined in Inmate Death, by Terri Langford — Texas prison officials have recommended the firing of a supervisor at the Clements Unit and disciplinary actions against 17 others for allowing a severely beaten inmate to remain undiscovered in his cell for an unknown amount of time.

Slideshow: Pope Francis Visits Ciudad Juárez, by Shelby Tauber — Pope Francis ended his trip through Mexico with a whirlwind one-day visit to Ciudad Juárez on Wednesday. Thousands arrived early, both to Juárez and to its sister city just across the U.S-Mexico border, El Paso, to welcome the pontiff. Francis capped off the trip with a Mass celebration that was simulcast to El Paso's Sun Bowl Stadium.

State Employee Steps Down After Women's Health Study, by Edgar Walters — A high-ranking official at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission is resigning after he co-authored an unflattering study that found the state’s exclusion of Planned Parenthood from a family planning program restricted women’s access to health care.

Judge Orders County, State to Release More Sandra Bland Footage, by Johnathan Silver — A federal judge Thursday ordered Waller County and the state of Texas to show the legal team representing Sandra Bland's family the original videos from her time in jail. 

Texas Racing Commission Nixes Historical Racing, by Jamie Lovegrove — The Texas Racing Commission voted 5-4 on Thursday to repeal rules allowing a new form of gambling, ending a monthslong deadlock that pitted members of the industry against state lawmakers.

The Day Ahead

•    On Saturday, South Carolina Republicans choose who they want as their party's nominee for president. Also, Nevada Democrats caucus for their presidential choice. Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton is scheduled to travel after the caucuses to Houston for a get out the vote event Saturday evening.


Austin's Community Schools a National Model for Turn-Arounds, Texas Observer

Local police use of vast license plate database raises privacy concern, Austin American-Statesman

Nearly 500 tons of trash left after papal visit, El Paso Times

Daughter of ‘Duck Dynasty’ figure running for Hurst council, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Rangers report surfaces for first time in Bland family lawsuit, Houston Chronicle

2016 coming soon to a TV near you, The Dallas Morning News

Rise of the populists: Trump, Sanders hit a nerve with fed-up voters, The Dallas Morning News

Consolidating Hispanic support, Clinton’s campaign throws punches at Sanders, The Dallas Morning News

Turner taps 36-year HPD veteran as interim chief, Houston Chronicle

Cruz vs. Cruz on Pentagon spending, Politico

Quote to Note

"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”

Pope Francis, on being asked his thoughts on presidential candidate Donald Trump’s promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border

Today in TribTalk

Why I'm for Hillary Clinton, by Rodney Ellis — here is only one candidate who has a proven and successful record of fighting to raise incomes for hardworking Americans and ensuring more good-paying jobs come to Texas. Her name is Hillary Clinton.

Long road of U.S. race relations passes through Texas A&M campus, by Royce West — The discourse that began after a race-related incident this week on the Texas A&M campus is not new to the state or the country. It is a road that has been traveled before and lingers to be frequented again.

News From Home

•    In this week’s Roundup, the Tribune’s Alana Rocha and Justin Dehn take a look at the University of Texas at Austin’s much anticipated campus carry guidelines, Pope Francis’ trip to Mexico and the continuing saga of the 2016 presidential race.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation with Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. and Rep. Jose Manuel Lozano on Feb. 25 at Texas A&M University-Kingsville

•    Live Post-Primary TribCast on March 2 at the Austin Club

•    Protecting Houston Before the Next Big Storm on March 3 at San Jacinto College Maritime Technology and Training Center in La Porte.

•    A Conversation with Sid Miller, Texas Agriculture Commissioner on March 10 at the Austin Club

•    A Conversation with Reps. Craig Goldman, Stephanie Klick and Ramon Romero Jr. on March 29 at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

•    A Conversation with Sen. Carlos Uresti and Rep. Poncho Nevárez on April 13 at Sul Ross State University in Alpine

•    A Symposium on the Texas Economy on April 29 at the University of Houston

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