Cruz Gives Trump High Marks for his Debate Performance

Businessman Donald Trump and U.S. Sen Ted Cruz at the Fox Business Republican presidential debate in North Charleston, South Carolina on January 14, 2016.
Businessman Donald Trump and U.S. Sen Ted Cruz at the Fox Business Republican presidential debate in North Charleston, South Carolina on January 14, 2016.

After offering a less-than-enthusiastic endorsement of Donald Trump last week, Ted Cruz is giving high marks to the Republican presidential nominee for his first debate with Hillary Clinton.

"Tonight, Donald Trump had his strongest debate performance of the election cycle," the Texas senator wrote on Facebook shortly after Trump left the stage Monday night. "He drew strong contrasts with Hillary on taxes, regulations, law and order, and the disastrous Iran deal."

On Friday, Cruz finally threw his support to Trump, his former bitter rival in the primaries. But in the days since, Cruz has appeared uneasy explaining his endorsement and squaring it with his harsh criticism of Trump in the past.

In a radio interview Tuesday morning, Cruz continued to praise Trump's debate performance. Speaking with conservative host Hugh Hewitt, Cruz specifically defended Trump against Clinton's focus on his years-long questioning of whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States.

"I don’t think there are a whole lot of voters in this country that give a flying flip about the birther issue," Cruz said. "If all Hillary cares about is screaming, 'You’re a racist, you’re a racist,' rather than actually providing real solutions to the challenges facing working men and women, I don’t think that’s a good debate night for her."


GOP nominee Donald Trump added a stop to a Texas fundraising swing in mid-October: Alamo City.

The real estate mogul is shooting to raise $5-8 million in Texas in October to fuel the final stretch of the presidential campaign. The Tribune previously reported Friday that the Texas trip would include a Dallas fundraiser.

The San Antonio event will be on Oct. 11 luncheon, and attendees are asked to donate as much as $100,000 per couple.

This will be Trump's third Texas trip in two months.


Several Texans were credited with helping lead a national fundraising push for Donald Trump, said to have raised more than $18 million in donations and pledges for the GOP nominee's campaign and the RNC after Monday’s presidential debate.

Among those listed in a press release from the campaign were: Dallas-based fundraiser Allison McIntosh, Dallas-based investor Ray Washburne, Dallas-based financier Roy Bailey, Dallas-based investor Gentry Beach, Dallas-based investor Tommy Hicks and San Antonio-based website developer Brad Parscale.


State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, is wading into the ongoing controversy over policy and community relations. On Thursday, he said that he plans to file legislation next session that would require teaching ninth graders on what to do if they are stopped by police for a traffic violation or if they are detained.

According to Whitmire’s office, the proposed legislation is intended to help prevent “escalated situations between officers and civilians.” Encounters in Texas and elsewhere between law enforcement and civilians that have turned violent have made headlines for more than a year.

"There is no home team or visiting team,” Whitmire said in a statement. “We must all come together to develop the best strategies to improve relations and trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

Whitmire chairs the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, which will take up an interim charge to look at ways to “to reduce the number of injuries and death to or by law enforcement officers” at a Tuesday hearing.

Straus Names Steve Wolens to Texas Ethics Commission

Joe Straus, Texas Speaker of the House, speaks at an 85th Legislation Session Preview at the Dallas Regional Chamber on Tuesday, Sep. 13, 2016.
Joe Straus, Texas Speaker of the House, speaks at an 85th Legislation Session Preview at the Dallas Regional Chamber on Tuesday, Sep. 13, 2016.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has appointed former Rep. Steve Wolens to the Texas Ethics Commission.

Wolens replaces Paul Hobby, who stepped down earlier this year, months after his term expired. Straus gets to appoint two members of the eight-person panel — one from each party — and Wolens counts as his Democratic pick.

Wolens, now a Dallas lawyer, served in the House from 1981-2005, during which he authored ethics legislation. In a statement, Straus said Wolens "will help ensure that the Ethics Commission maintains its independence and protects the transparency of our political process."

Wolens' appointment comes as conservative activists continue to press state leaders to deal with "holdovers," or members of the commission whose terms have expired but whose replacements have not been selected. Wolens’ term is set to run out in November 2019. 


Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Monday morning rolled out a new list of Texas Republicans formally assisting the campaign of their presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

The statewide leadership team includes many elected officials who are already supporting Trump, as well as some who have been less vocal. Former Gov. Rick Perry is serving as honorary co-chairman of the team and Republican National Committeewoman Toni Anne Dashiell as vice chair.

Patrick, Trump's Texas state chairman, said the team, named the Texas Strategic Advisory Board, will help recruit supporters to make calls to and volunteer in swing states. The groups plan to add more members.

In addition to Patrick, Perry and Dashiell, the team so far includes:

  • Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller
  • Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton
  • State Sen. Donna Campbell of New Braunfels 
  • State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham
  • State Rep. Charlie Geren of Fort Worth
  • State Rep. Todd Hunter of Corpus Christi
  • State Rep. Geanie Morrison of Victoria
  • State Rep. Larry Phillips of Sherman
  • State Rep. James White of Woodville
  • Wayne Christian, Republican nominee for railroad commissioner
  • Brooke Rollins, president of the Texas Public Policy Foundation
  • Theresa Kosmoski, president of the Texas Federation of Republican Women
  • Brenham businessman Rick Figueroa
  • R.W. Bray, African American engagement director for the Texas GOP
  • Andy Nguyen, president of the Texas Asian Republican Assembly 


Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has named four Texans to his Asian Pacific American Advisory Committee.

Announced Sunday, the 31-member panel includes Herman Martir, a Fort Worth pastor; Andy Nguyen, a Tarrant County commissioner; Sichan Siv, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Martha Wong, a former state representative from Houston.

"The committee members will support and strengthen ties to each community and provide recommendations on how best to ensure AAPI voices are heard and included in the Campaign," the campaign said.

Inside Intelligence: About Those Leaders and What They Said...

For this week’s nonscientific survey of insiders in government and politics, we asked about several recent pronouncements coming from leaders in the state in order to evaluate those statements, a la TV Guide's Cheers & Jeers.

We started by asking about Ted Cruz's about face on Friday over whether to endorse the Republicans' nominee for president, Donald Trump. Half of the insiders jeered the decision while just 10 percent cheered Cruz's decision to back Trump. Another 38 percent said it merited neither cheers nor jeers.

We continued by asking about Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's comment at the Tribune Festival that suggested he placed blame for the shooting of five Dallas police officers on the Black Lives Matter movement, which staged the July protest march at the close of which a gunman opened fire on police.

On this one, more than three in five of the insiders jeered the comment with 16 percent cheering it and 20 percent choosing neither.

We shifted then to Gov. Greg Abbott's decision to place conditions on Texas' participation in the refugee resettlement program, which several state leaders say don't have enough safeguards against admitting potential terrorists into the country. Backers of the program say a thorough vetting process is already in place.

Exactly half of the insiders jeered Abbott for his decision to defy the federal government on the resettlement program while 31 percent cheered Abbott and 16 percent said neither.

Finally, we asked about former Baylor President Ken Starr who said at this weekend's Tribune Festival that sexual assault is not "an endemic problem" at the school, which has come under intense criticism for its handling of accusations of sexual assault by Baylor athletes.

On this one, Starr's remark was jeered by 71 percent of the insiders and cheered by just 6 percent. Another 14 percent chose to neither cheer nor jeer.

We collected comments along the way, and a full set of those is attached.


Ted Cruz endorses Donald Trump for president…

• "Ted's convention move was questionable but he could fall back on consistency and principles. Now, that's gone. It was a shortsighted move to cover his bases on a 2018 challenge and will backfire more than his convention speech. Two unforced errors."

• "I'm happy for both men. Cruz is courageous and principled. He's helping us attain our goal: defeat Hillary."

• "First, he was lying Ted, now he's flip-flopping Ted. Make up your mind, stupid! Be a man and stick to your principles. You just proved how much of a politician you really are and for that I take away your Tea Party credentials! Booo!"

• "He needed to do it. Political necessity. If Trump wins or loses narrowly, Cruz would be toast if he didn't endorse him."

• "He has somehow seized the worst of both worlds."


Dan Patrick blames Black Lives Matter for Dallas police shooting…

• "Horrible, but he is playing the same Trump cards with his political future believing nothing he can say will hurt him with his voting base."

• "I think BLM is genuinely out to protest that gets overtaken by rioters. Kind of like the Tea Party — originally formed as 'Taxed Enough Already' — has been overtaken by people who are more concerned with bathroom policies. We can't blame people with good intentions when their causes are hijacked by others."

• "Black Lives Matter is to blame for the murders. They foster violence. The group should be put on trial for accessory to murder. DAs around the country have prosecuted similar cases."

• "A rare moment of poor choice for Mr. Goeb. He doesn't usually stumble quite so openly."

• "Neither. Both sides blame the other for the extremists they tolerate. This was business as usual, no one has the higher ground."


Greg Abbott places conditions on Texas’ participation in the nation's refugee resettlement program…

• "That is bigoted, and pandering to the worst elements in Texas."

• "Any pushback on Obama's irresponsible immigration policies is a plus for Texas."

• "NIMBY!"

• "Again... Abbott is doing nothing to expand the Party... rather, he is all about re-election."

• "Jeers. So much for 'innocent until proven guilty.' Break out the Skittles."


Ken Starr says sexual assault at Baylor not “an endemic problem”…

• "May be factually true turning on the word 'endemic.' But, so what? There is no path to redemption for Starr, and no healing for the Baylor community by making this fine distinction."

• "Baylor's regents should release the entire Pepper Hamilton report. Until they do, we can only guess at what the real problems at Baylor were."

• "Every single time this man opens his mouth, he says the exact wrong thing (even when the great Merrie Spaeth attempts to coach him.) Good riddance, Ken, can you just please go away now?"

• "The very man who went after Bill Clinton on his sex scandal has the audacity to say that 'rape' is not an endemic problem. Mr. Starr, can you define what 'is' is?"

• "Oh geez. What is with this week's questions? It's a parade of horribles, LOL. Is there no one left in public life who has any self-awareness?"

Our thanks to this week's participants: Gene Acuna, Cathie Adams, Brandon Aghamalian, Brandon Alderete, Clyde Alexander, Jay Arnold, Dave Beckwith, Andrew Biar, Tom Blanton, Chris Britton, Raif Calvert, Lydia Camarillo, Elna Christopher, Kevin Cooper, Randy Cubriel, Beth Cubriel, June Deadrick, Tom Duffy, David Dunn, Richard Dyer, Jack Erskine, Dominic Giarratani, Bruce Gibson, Eric Glenn, Kinnan Golemon, Daniel Gonzalez, John Greytok, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, Susan Hays, Deborah Ingersoll, Mark Jones, Robert Kepple, Richard Khouri, Tom Kleinworth, Sandy Kress, Nick Lampson, Pete Laney, Dick Lavine, James LeBas, Luke Legate, Myra Leo, Richard Levy, Ruben Longoria, Matt Mackowiak, Jason McElvaney, Steve Minick, Mike Moses, Todd Olsen, Nef Partida, Jerod Patterson, Robert Peeler, Tom Phillips, Wayne Pierce, Allen Place, Gary Polland, Jay Pritchard, Jay Propes, Ted Melina Raab, Patrick Reinhart, David Reynolds, Carl Richie, A.J. Rodriguez, Kim Ross, Grant Ruckel, Jason Sabo, Andy Sansom, Barbara Schlief, Stan Schlueter, Robert Scott, Bruce Scott, Steve Scurlock, Christopher Shields, Nancy Sims, Ed Small, Martha Smiley, Mark Smith, Leonard Spearman, Dennis Speight, Tom Spilman, Sherry Sylvester, Robert Thetford, Vicki Truitt, Chris Wallace, John Weaver, David White, Darren Whitehurst, Michael Williams, Peck Young, Angelo Zottarelli.

The Calendar

Friday, Sept. 30

  • TexasDesal Association 2016 Conference; Radisson Hotel & Suites, 111 E. Cesar Chavez St., Austin (8 a.m.-1 p.m.)
  • World Affairs Council Conversation, with retired U.S. Army General David Petraeus; Dallas City Performance Hall, 2520 Flora St., Dallas (12-2 p.m.)

Monday, Oct. 3

  • State Rep. Rick Miller, R-Sugar Land, fundraiser; Fernando's, 14135 Southwest Freeway, Sugar Land (6-8 p.m.)

Tuesday, Oct. 4

  • CPPP Legacy Luncheon, with keynote speaker former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin; Hilton Austin, 500 E. Fourth St., Austin (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.)
  • RED STATE WOMEN: A Conversation on the Upcoming November Election; Austin Club, 110 E. Ninth St., Austin (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.)

Wednesday, Oct. 5

  • State Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso, fundraiser; Austin Club, 110 E. Ninth St., Austin (4:30-6 p.m.)
  • Texas Alliance for Life 2016 Annual Benefit Dinner, honoring Gov. Greg Abbott; Hilton Austin, 500 E. Fourth St., Austin (5:30-9 p.m.)
  • Democratic Travis County District Attorney candidate Margaret Moore; Austin Club, 110 E. Ninth St., Austin (5:30-7 p.m.)

Thursday, Oct. 6

  • State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, Annual 40th Birthday Party fundraiser; Circle R Ranch, 5901 Cross Timbers Road, Flower Mound (6-8 p.m.)
  • TX/OU reception honoring state Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, with special guests UT running back Earl Campbell and OU running back Billy Sims; Dallas (7-8:30 p.m.)

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

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State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, is resigning in January, a decision she said is a result of health issues related to a 2013 car accident and concerns over caring for her 9-year-old daughter. Her name will still be on the November ballot, and if she wins, Gov. Greg Abbott could call a special election to fill her vacant seat.

Walnut Springs Elementary School's decision to allow a transgender student, born a boy, to use girls' bathrooms sparked contentious debate during a Monday night meeting of the Dripping Springs ISD school board.

After more than two decades of effort by lawmakers to install a monument at the Capitol celebrating African-Americans, the main components of a bronze and granite memorial were quietly lowered onto the south lawn on Tuesday.

Former Gov. Rick Perry was eliminated from the ABC program “Dancing with the Stars” on Tuesday night. The loss came at the hand of another Texan, Vanilla Ice. On Monday night, the two were pitted against each other ahead of Tuesday's elimination round with Ice winning immunity in a tiebreaker.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told state lawmakers Wednesday that the $800 million border surge has made two counties safer. But he conceded that the rest of the border is more vulnerable.

Texas House budget and public education leaders said Wednesday that the best way to overhaul the state’s school finance system is to increase the base amount of money it gives to each district per student.

University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall has filed an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court to get access to confidential student records that UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven has denied him.

Disclosure: The University of Texas System has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Political People and their Moves

Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday endorsed Wayne Christian, the Republican nominee for railroad commissioner. Christian, a former House member, is also being backed for the position by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick and Comptroller Glenn Hegar.

Republican HD-126 candidate Kevin Roberts announced Tuesday that he’s received the endorsement of the political arm of the Associated Builders & Contractors of Greater Houston. Roberts is running to succeed state Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring, who opted against a run for re-election to the Harris County House seat.

The political arm of Texans for Lawsuit Reform announced on Wednesday that it has endorsed Republican candidate Dawn Buckingham for SD-24. She is facing off against Democratic candidate Jennie Lou Leeder for the right to represent the Senate seat being vacated by Horseshoe Bay Republican Troy Fraser.

Republican Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson announced an endorsement Friday of her re-election bid by the Association of Women Attorneys. And she racked up another endorsement this week from state Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place. Anderson is being challenged in the fall general election by Democratic candidate Kim Ogg.

The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) announced on Wednesday its slate of officers for the 2016-17 term. They are: President, Charles Stafford (Denton ISD); President-elect, Teresa Flores (Ingleside ISD); First vice president, James “Jim” de Garavilla (Silsbee ISD); Second vice president, Lee Lentz-Edwards (Kermit ISD); and Secretary-treasurer, Jim Rice (Fort Bend ISD). Officers were elected at TASB’s recent annual convention in Houston.

The State Agency Council to the Governor’s Commission for Women honored four women earlier this month with its 2016 Outstanding Women in Texas Government Awards. The honorees were: Outstanding Professional Development, Sandra Woodruff, Comptroller’s Office; Outstanding Management, Shannon Blalock, Texas Parks and Wildlife; Outstanding Leadership, Christine Maldonado, Health & Human Services Commission – Office of Inspector General; and Outstanding Community Involvement, Susan Dorsey, General Land Office.

Disclosure: The Texas Association of School Boards, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, the Texas Parks And Wildlife Department, the Texas General Land Office and Patricia and Sam Harless have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Quotes of the Week

I don’t think there are a whole lot of voters in this country that give a flying flip about the birther issue.

Ted Cruz, defending Donald Trump after Monday's presidential debate where his role in the birther movement was questioned

I think I have to apologize and say, maybe, perhaps, those of you who said Ted Cruz is calculating and a smarmy politician, I think I may have to slightly agree with you and apologize for saying, 'No, he wasn't.'

Glenn Beck after an interview Monday with Cruz on his decision to endorse Trump

Honestly I haven’t had this much fun with an election in a really long time. Is it time to start doing opposition research on the other teams?

Deirdre Delisi, former aide to Rick Perry, confessing via Facebook to voting 65 times for her former boss to keep him on "Dancing With the Stars"

There’s a lot of homespun sense of place in Iowa, but there was no place where people served me waffles the shape of Iowa.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy on the everlasting love that Texans have for the shape of their state