Texas Republicans will assemble in Fort Worth on Thursday to pick delegates for the Republican National Convention in August. But the event will be held as runoff elections are still raging at the top of many Republican tickets, including the fierce battle between Tea Party candidate Ted Cruz and state Republican icon David Dewhurst.
With that in mind, the convention will be a sort of “pitch session” for these candidates to reach out to supporters and delegates to grab their vote for the July 31 runoff election.
The party has scheduled "breakout sessions" during the convention to let delegates hear from candidates still battling for Republican nominations. The campaigns and runoffs are usually over before the conventions, which makes it easier to sell the whole unity thing.
The convention will be filled with big name speakers, including Texas libertarian congressman Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Paul Ryan and Texas Governor Rick Perry.
The theme of the convention is “Taking Back Our Country.” The event is one of the biggest political conventions in the country.
PolicyMic will be live blogging the event starting Thursday and heading through the weekend.
LIVE UPDATES: Saturday 4:49 PM. Texas Republicans Dial Down Immigration Rhetoric to Woo Hispanics:
From Houston Chronicle:
"Texas Republicans, in a nod to the importance of the Hispanic vote, toned down the rhetoric in their party platform on illegal immigration.
The section now says upwards of 11 million “undocumented individuals” (no longer are they called “illegals”) came to and remain in this country under differing circumstances and their mass deportation “would neither be equitable nor practical.
The platform blames “the decades-long failure of the federal government to secure our borders and address the immigration issue.
“We seek common ground to develop and advance a conservative, market- and law-based approach to our nation’s immigration issues,” says the platform, with steps including an “effective and efficient temporary worker program.”
Saturday 3:24 PM: Ron Paul: "We Have to Unite on the Right Principles." Janet Napolitano Mention Gets Booed. Paul Ryan Addresses #TXD2012:
The 2012 Texas GOP Convention continues with reports from Twitter of Rep. Ryan Paul (R-Wis.) addressing the convention while presidential candidate Ron Paul is said to keep pushing the narrative of unity but "on the right principles."
In the meantime, a mention of President Obama's Homeland Security Secretary and former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano reportedly was booed on the convention floor.
Saturday 11:15 AM
A Schism in the Republican Party? Tea party groups have branded Dewhurst as too moderate, especially seen when he was booed by some Ron Paul and Tea Party supporters as he addressed the convention. Ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint have endorsed Cruz, as has former presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
Dewhurst trumpeted his conservative accomplishments in his speech at the Fort Worth Convention Center, saying he helped Texas defund groups affiliated with abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, while also helping pass 51 tax cuts.
He added that his record has even impressed hardcore conservatives, saying, “Tea party leaders know because last year, I helped cut $14 billion out of our state spending.”
Dewhurst also stressed the importance of religion: “We know that whatever success that we’ve had in Texas is due to our deeply held conservative principles and the will to implement them and by the grace of the good Lord.”
Cruz is set to address the convention this weekend, but as he headed to a Texas Republican Women’s gathering nearby Friday, he stopped to argue with Tarrant County delegate Sherri Heinzman and her 17-year-old daughter, Sara. The two were waving Dewhurst signs and claimed Cruz was soft on opposing gay marriage.
Cruz responded that Palin and Santorum would not have endorsed someone who wasn’t a true conservative — and he looked ready to keep talking, but was pulled away by an aide.
The intraparty senatorial fight has laid bare divisions within the Texas GOP— but it’s not the only example. State House Speaker Joe Straus took the stage later Friday to sporadic cries of “Oust Straus!” Some delegates even walked out.
Straus took power in 2009 after forming a coalition between moderate Republicans and Democrats when the Texas House was almost evenly divided. After tea party members helped form a 101-49 supermajority two years later, conservative Republicans tried to depose Straus but failed.
Since then, grassroots groups have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to oppose Straus, and Republican state Rep. Brian Hughes of Marshall has announced his intent to challenge the speaker for the House leadership.
Saturday 8:54 AM: David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz Will Address Texas GOP Convention:
The Associated Press has reported, senate candidates David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz are set to address the Texas Republican Convention today.
The candidates, who face a runoff election on July 31 for the Republican nomination to replace retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, are locked in a tie battle that has divided delegates at the GOP convention.
Friday 8:20 PM Ron Paul Speaks at the Texas GOP Convention:
Ron Paul was presented to the audience at the Texas GOP Convention as "the real American icon." The audience's enthusiastic reception drowned Paul's voice initially but when the applauding and cheering subsided Paul was heard greeting the audience full of "friends of liberty" who will play a "very important role in the politics here."
Friday 4:45 PM Texas Gov. Rick Perry Booed For Mentioning Dewhurst:
Friday 4 PM Mitt Romney Booed at Convention:
From the Houston Chronicle blog: U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, in her speech to the 2012 Texas GOP Convention, painted the Democrats as trying to sow dissension among Republicans over Mitt Romney. Her all-GOP audience demonstrated the dissension that’s there, regardless of who planted it.
“We have got the job of electing Mitt Romney president of the United States … but the Democrats are trying to divide us. Democrats are trying to say Republicans aren’t enthusiastic about our nominee,” she said. “I’m plenty enthusiastic about Mitt Romney. It is time for us to rally around Mitt Romney."
There were strong boos and shouts of “Ron Paul” when she said Romney’s name, although some also applauded She said his name several times and pretty much got the same reaction each time.
Hutchison went out on a positive note after talking about how she has come to every state convention that’s occurred since 1972, her time as a state lawmaker, state treasurer and U.S. senator, and her retirement from her Washington office.
“So for me, it is good-bye for now. But I have loved this state. I have loved the opportunity that the Republican Party has given to me,” she said.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, who followed Hutchison, didn’t mention Romney’s name until the end of his speech and there were no boos.
Friday 3:30 PM Dewhurst and Cruz at Convention:
The Senate candidate took the podium to warm applause and a partial standing ovation one day after some delegates launched into loud and prolonged boos as Gov. Rick Perry endorsed Dewhurst on the convention floor.
When the crowd quieted, a few people cried "Cruz!" in support of Dewhurst's opponent Ted Cruz, but they were quickly and forcefully shushed.
Dewhurst is competing with Cruz, a former state solicitor general and tea party favorite, for the Republican nomination to replace retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. They face a runoff July 31 after no one in a crowded GOP field won a majority of the votes cast in last month's primary.
Friday 9:30 AM: Rand Paul Endorses Mitt Romney: Is Ron Paul Next?
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney received the endorsement of Kentucky junior Senator Rand Paul on Thursday, one of his biggest endorsements from the Tea Party/ libertarian far-right.
Rand Paul, the son of Republican presidential nominee and libertarian darling Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), said late Thursday that he would pick Romney, but that his father would remain his "first pick."
"My first choice had always been my father. I campaigned for him when I was 11-years-old. He's still my first pick," Rand Paul told Fox News' Sean Hannity. "But now that the nominating process is over, tonight I'm happy to announce that I'm going to be supporting Gov. Mitt Romney."
The endorsement shows that Romney will be able to marshal far-right voters under his banner. Throughout the 2012 GOP primaries, Romney was repeatedly criticized for not being “conservative enough,” and many libertarian and Tea Party voters have criticized Romney for a hawkish foreign policy and moderate fiscal policy.
The Rand Paul endorsement also gives Romney a boost in the conservative South, where the former Massachusetts governor struggled to gain support during the primaries.
Analysts have already speculated that Rand Paul could be a possible vice presidential pick for Romney, outlining his ability to garner Tea Party, libertarian, and far-right support. Still, the drawbacks of a Rand Paul VP pick outweigh any strengths.
Others consider Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) a better VP pick, especially in bringing in Tea Party voters.
Rand Paul is also seen as the heir to his father’s libertarian legacy. Ron Paul will retire from Congress in November, but has amassed a huge, fervent following throughout the country. Millennials in particular have been attracted to Ron Paul’s views on global military draw-backs, financial reform, and small government.
Ron Paul is officially still in the presidential race, although he has "suspended spending" in his campaign and admitted Wednesday he lacked the delegates to win the nomination. Ron Paul has used a unique “It’s the Delegates, Dummy” campaign strategy to mobilize grassroots support to influence the ultimate delegate decisions in states. As a result Ron Paul has been able to win a number of Republican National Convention delegates, despite having failed to win the popular vote in these states.
Romney has clinched the 1,144 delegates necessary for the nod.
Ron Paul has said he won’t run as a third party candidate in the 2012 elections. He is attending this weekend’s Texas Republican Convention, where he is a speaker.
Will Ron Paul be the next big name endorsement for Romney?
Thursday 1:30 PM:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is kicking off the Texas Republican Convention on an opening day that also features an address by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.
Perry is set to address the convention Thursday morning. Paul, Texas' other unsuccessful presidential candidate, will lead a breakout session in the afternoon titled "Uniting Republicans and Balancing the Federal Budget."
Also appearing at events on the sidelines of the gathering at the Fort Worth Convention Center are Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz.
Dewhurst and Cruz will meet in a runoff election July 31 for the GOP nomination to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
The convention runs until Sunday and also includes speeches by former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Wisconsin U.S. Rep Paul Ryan.
Background: The regular business of the convention is to elect party leaders, the members of the State Republican Executive Commission that handles party business between conventions, to select delegates and electors for the national convention and general election, and to approve a platform. The last task might prove to be a trial for party unity. This year, the platform committee is attempting to streamline the document to make it more concise, said committee chairman Tom Mechler. That will probably mean much discussion on the convention floor about what was and wasn't left in — and opens the door for hurt feelings among the party's many factions if they think their positions haven't been adequately represented.
The Texas Republican convention is one of the biggest in the country, with 12,000 delegates and alternates. By comparison, the Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay expects just over 4,400 delegates and alternates.
The Runoff Election Hoopla: Ted Cruz forced a runoff election in the Texas GOP Senate race. David Dewhurst, a Republican with years of state-level service, was short of the 50% majority needed to earn the nomination outright. The two men will now face a runoff election on July 31 to advance to the November general election. A runoff also will decide the Democratic primary.
After a Tea Party flare-up in the Indiana primary — which saw veteran Republican Senator Richard Lugar unseated by an up-start Tea Party candidate — conservative voters may again vent their rage at the Republican establishment in Texas.
Are we seeing a Tea Party wave sweeping across the 2012 elections?