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Dewhurst on defensive during first Texas U.S. Senate debate

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  • Greg Cannon
    I actually watched this thing last night. My take on these guys is that Dewhurst and Leppert managed to sound the least crazy, though that probably doesn t
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 13, 2012
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      I actually watched this thing last night. My take on these guys is that Dewhurst and Leppert managed to sound the least crazy, though that probably doesn't help them during the primary. Dewhurst's voice will put anybody to sleep, I recommend him to insomniacs.

      Addison wants to be seen as a clone of Ron Paul, though more against immigration than Paul. Addison is also the type that carries a copy of the Constitution around all the time, waves it around meaninglessly, and thinks he understands it but really doesn't. He is also very anti-war, like most Paul people.

      James was the most annoying, as he feels the need to mention football in almost every sentence that comes out of his mouth. He also seemed to know hardly anything about absolutely anything, but can talk at great length about God and family.

      Cruz is supposed to be the tea party guy, but mainly comes off as a slick lawyer and attack dog. If the whole tea party and other party base people actually watched this debate, I bet a lot of his supporters would desert him for Addison.

      I suppose I liked Leppert the best- he came off as a moderate conservative (not that I imagine my endorsement means much to any Republicans).

      I assume the nomination will go either to Cruz or Dewhurst, but we'll see.


      Dewhurst on defensive during first Texas U.S. Senate debate

      From left, Republican U.S. Senate candidates ex-NFL star Craig James, former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Magnolia funeral home director Glenn Addison (back to camera) and former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert (obscured behind Addison) meet for their first debate Thursday night at the Hilton Inn in downtown Austin.
      By Kate Alexander


      Published: 10:48 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012

      Texas Republicans vying for a seat in the U.S. Senate crowded onto a debate stage for the first time Thursday night to spar over taxes, immigration, national defense and federal spending.

      From the outset, former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz took the fight to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, calling him a "timid career politician." He ignored the other three candidates.

      Dewhurst's "rhetoric on the campaign trail will be great, but you have to compare the records and look at who has been standing and fighting and defending their principles," Cruz said.

      Although Dewhurst initially set his aim at President Barack Obama, he ended up spending much of the night defending his decade-long tenure presiding over the Texas Senate.

      Dewhurst refuted Cruz's contention that as lieutenant governor he had supported a state income tax to balance the budget. It was a misleading criticism, Dewhurst said, because he was referring to the state's business tax, not a personal income tax, and that approach is favored by many Texas businesses.

      "I said, 'Over my cold, dead body.' I have never recommended raising taxes," Dewhurst said.

      And Dewhurst said he would be able to use his extensive experience in the Texas Legislature to silence naysayers who argue that the federal budget cannot be cut.

      "We can do it. We've done it in Texas. Follow me, we'll do it in Washington," Dewhurst said.

      Competing to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the candidates largely agreed on the big issues. They supported auditing the Federal Reserve, opposed amnesty for illegal immigrants, backed major spending cuts but objected to reductions in defense spending.

      Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, a businessman who has led several construction, real estate and finance companies, decried the other candidates' reliance on rhetoric and generalities.

      "Don't accept platitudes and seven-second sound bites," Leppert said, touting his 33-page plan to reform taxes and social programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

      He added, "Look to people who have actually led, produced results, both on the public side and the private side."

      Glenn Addison, a funeral home director from Magnolia and self-described "common man," had the crowd on his side with his opening comments referring to China as an "evil, thieving bunch" and calls for the elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency.

      "It's not in the book," Addison said, holding up a pocket-size version of the Constitution. "It's unconstitutional. And it needs to be abolished."

      Ex-NFL star and broadcaster Craig James, a late entrant into the race, said his campaign will be driven by three core principles: "God is God. Family is family. And the Constitution is the Constitution. "

      When asked how to cut the federal budget, James said the answer is simple.

      "Just look to the Constitution, look to the playbook," James said.

      The debate was sponsored by two conservative groups, Texas Public Policy Foundation and Empower Texans.

      Cruz, who has won endorsements from several tea party standard-bearers from Washington, said there is an ideological battle afoot and that Dewhurst is not on the side of tea party conservatives.

      "There is a civil war going on right now for the hearts and minds of Republicans in the Senate," Cruz said.

      Dewhurst countered that he has proved his willingness to fight and noted that it is his name on the many legal challenges Texas has filed against the Obama administration.

      Addison offered some of best wit of the night. When Cruz said he would throw his body in front of a train to stop a compromise on health care reform, Addison graciously offered his funeral services.

      Dewhurst entered the race as the presumed front-runner because he is well-known among Republican primary voters and has considerable personal wealth, which he has drawn on in the past to win elections. He has also been keeping his distance from the other Senate contenders. Thursday's debate was the first time since early October that Dewhurst had appeared with the other candidates.

      Both Dewhurst and Leppert have already contributed millions from their respective personal fortunes to run their campaigns and can dedicate millions more, if necessary.

      James said earlier Thursday that he has put some of his own money into his campaign but will not be able to pay for it all himself.

      Cruz boasts that he has raised more than any of the other candidates, well over

      $3 million. But that amount is a relative pittance in Texas elections; it costs over $1 million a week to run television ads across the state.

      The candidates are scheduled to meet again Feb. 1 at a candidate forum sponsored by the Texas Association of Business and in a televised debate on March 2. The primary is scheduled for April 3, though that date could change because the state's congressional and legislative district maps are tied up in court.


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