"You've got a bunch of politicians that don't want to tell the truth," Leppert told Hotline On Call
. "They want to run around and try to get elected. I would rather be thought of as someone who is thoughtfully trying to address the issues and get in good discussions and debates on what the solutions are."
Leppert said that he hasn't seen any other other Republicans vying for the nomination lay out their economic proposals in detail. Pointing to his business experience -- Leppert was the CEO of one of the nation's leading construction companies -- and mayoral tenure, Leppert argues he is ideally suited to tackle the country's fiscal problems.
"We not only talk about issues, we've got the experience," Leppert said. "We talk about creating jobs. I've created thousands of them."
In taking strongly conservative stances on major fiscal issues early, Leppert is also attempting to counteract his biggest problem: the perception that he built up a moderate record while campaigning for and serving as mayor of Dallas. Facing the popular Dewhurst, and Cruz, who has racked up impressive conservative support, Leppert is hoping that his stances on fiscal issues will cause primary voters to look past the suggestions of a moderate past.
: The Cruz campaign has framed the race for the nomination in simple terms: a grassroots conservative (Cruz) against an establishment figure (Dewhurst). Cruz's campaign is focused on consolidating the support of the conservative movement.
"The primary within the primary was sort of when Michael Williams was around," a source close to Cruz said. "That was for the grassroots conservative alternative to Dewhurst. We've won that subprimary."
To further this narrative, Cruz has racked up endorsements from prominent conservative groups and leaders. He has won the support of the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, and Sens. Jim DeMint
, R-S.C>, Mike Lee
, R-Utah, and Rand Paul
, R-Ky.. Last month, Cruz spoke at the RedState Gathering in South Carolina, where he endorsed Perry shortly after the governor announced his presidential campaign.
This week, Cruz announced its "Grassroots County Leadership Team" which includes 41 local Tea Party leaders and representatives from 101 Texas counties. The Cruz campaign is trying to emphasize that they have won the support of both the leaders of the conservative movement -- DeMint, the Club for Growth, etc -- and the local grassroots organizers on the ground in Texas.
Cruz is concentrating on boosting his third quarter fundraising numbers, and the campaign is optimistic they can compete with the deep-pocketed Dewhurst and Leppert, who has shown an ability to raise money and willingness to contribute his own. Before launching his campaign, Cruz was a virtual unknown in the state, so he will need enough cash to boost his name ID through television ads.
: Since jumping into the race in July, Dewhurst has been a hard man to find. He has chosen not to participate in most candidate forums, prompting criticism from Tea Party activists
and opponents alike.
"We've done a bunch of forums, and I haven't seen him at any forums," Leppert said last week. "When I ran for mayor, I made sure that I did everything, and I was out and around."
As the frontrunner in the race, Dewhurst may be employing a "run out the clock" strategy -- one Texas voters should have some familiarity with. During the general election of last year's gubernatorial campaign, Perry, who was a heavy favorite with a significant financial advantage, didn't participate in a single debate.
By avoiding forums at this stage in the race, Dewhurst can limit his opponents' opportunities to challenge and criticize him in front of voters, especially given Texas' early primary date of March 6.
But the Dewhurst campaign says this is not part of their calculus, pointing instead to the fact that he hasn't been running for as long as his opponents.
"We just started our campaign," Dewhurst spokesperson Matt Hirsch
said. "We're going to be attending all kinds of events across Texas."
Dewhurst did appear at a forum
sponsored by GOP Rep. Pete Olson
earlier this week, perhaps in an attempt to stave off some of the criticism he'd been taking from grassroots organizers.
Like Leppert, Dewhurst will emphasize his combination of private and public sector economic experience.
"David Dewhurst is the businessman in this race. He is the only candidate that has started a business, a very successful business," Hirsch said. "He has signed both sides of the paycheck."