The Belo Debate: My Top 10 Observations

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8. Hutchison spent a lot of time talking about Perry's support of the Trans-Texas Corridor, but she struggled to articulate why it was such a bad idea. I don't think the words "eminent domain" came out of her mouth once. While the plan is dead, which Perry admitted last night, Hutchison must keep its sprit alive by detailing Perry's land grab. Heck, tell a story about all the farmers who have called you with land that has been in their families for generations that Perry wanted to take from them. This is an issue that matters to a lot of conservatives, but she's not making it resonate the way it should.

7. A lot of time was spent discussing the Texas Enterprise Fund -- $380 million of taxpayers' dough that has been used to lure companies to Texas or convince existing ones to expand. Both Hutchison and Medina attacked Perry on this issue, but it was one area where I thought Perry did relatively well. He strongly defended its use ("I will defend that any day"), while Medina called it a "corporate slush fund," and Hutchison said the businesses would have come here anyway, arguing that the money would have been better spent on education. But where were the facts from Medina and Hutchison?

6. Medina handled her toughest question of the night extremely well, which was related to her comments at an August 2009 Texas Sovereignty or Secession Rally in Austin. She made it clear that she's "never been a fan of secession," and she added that her statements were made in response to Perry's "ill-advised comments" on secession months earlier.

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Sam Merten
Contact: Sam Merten