AUSTIN -- After a rocky appearance at the Republican state convention this weekend, David Dewhurst came out swinging against Ted Cruz, suggesting Monday that Cruz doesn't have the character to become a U.S. senator.
Once again, it was Cruz's involvement in a patent case -- pitting a Chinese company against a U.S. inventor -- that drove Dewhurst to unload on his opponent. Dewhurst dipped into his vast personal fortune to finance TV attack ads on the topic before the May 29 primary, but the lieutenant governor still wound up in a runoff with the former Texas solicitor general.
Now Dewhurst is counting on the repeated attacks about the controversial case to undermine the Tea Party support Cruz has amassed. Dewhurst held a conference call with Jordan Fishman, the American businessman suing the Chinese company, late Monday morning.
Dewhurst said he was staging the event to discuss the latest legal twist in the case -- an appellate court ruling upholding a $26 million verdict against Shandong Linglong, for which Cruz has been listed as the "counsel of record." The company is accused of stealing Fishman's intellectual property -- blueprints for a specialty tire.
Beyond that, both Dewhurst and Cruz have repeatedly accused each other of lying about the facts in the case, with Dewhurst saying Cruz has downplayed his role in it and Cruz arguing that Dewhurst is distorting it.
"This is a terrific insight into the character of Mr. Cruz," Dewhurst said. "This is a very big issue."
Dewhurst's campaign previously distributed emails calling Cruz, son of a Cuban immigrant, "Red Ted" and asking, "What Does what Ted Cruz Have Against America." But during the conference call Monday, Dewhurst refused to answer a question on whether he thought Cruz was sympathetic to China or communist causes.
"That's a ridiculous question," Dewhurst said. "I'm not even going to respond to that."
Cruz has said he did not write the brief in the case and has not argued it in court. His campaign said Fishman had partnered with his own Chinese company to make the tires and used a notorious tax haven, the Channel Islands, as a base for his offshore business.
Cruz spokesman John Drogin said the attacks didn't work when Dewhurst first aired them in April, and won't work now.
"David Dewhurst is throwing the kitchen sink at Ted Cruz," Drogin said. "Today's conference call is just the latest in Dewhurst's diversions to talk about anything but his own moderate tax-and-spend record."
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/texas-politics/2012-elections/dewhurst-questions-cruzs-character/.