FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Locked in an ideological struggle between tea party activists and traditional conservatives, the Texas Republican Convention was hammering out a platform Saturday set to preserve a softer stance on immigration, while also endorsing voluntary counseling to "cure" being gay.
Booing and shouting sometimes interrupted hours of debate among roughly 7,000 delegates, and party chairman Steve Munisteri pleaded for civility. Far less contentious, though, was a 2016 presidential straw poll expected to be dominated by firebrand U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
The tea party darling spent two days working the convention and was often introduced as "our next president" and greeted by cries of "Run, Ted! Run!" The results weren't going to be announced until later Saturday, but Cruz was the favorite — despite competing against two other convention speakers, Gov. Rick Perry and fellow grass-roots favorite and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who was born in Texas.
Cruz refuses to say for sure whether he's running for president, and wouldn't predict a straw poll win — saying only "I'll leave it up to the delegates."
In the meantime, the convention appeared ready to largely keep a hotly debated 2012 party platform plank endorsing a guest-worker program for those in the country illegally. The so-called "Texas Solution" is meant to satisfy the needs of a booming Texas economy and was supposed to act as a model for comprehensive, federal immigration reform.
But opponents — many fierce, grass-roots conservatives and tea party activists — said such a platform would sanction amnesty for lawbreakers.
Delegates approved a proposed compromise that removes a specific call for a guest-worker program but creates a work-permit program that does essentially the same thing. Though it still needs final approval, the new plank is set to have work permits expire after five years, and not allow them to be issued until the U.S.-Mexico border is secure.
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