,,t r , 4.**, 111~4401#0,0.4144,4+4,60.00104011.106444, -:..1.4,4.4.iftost.401100resk ,traea a.4.4,01 tyymi.0140 ,0#,..4,0,40*.a., AM. Someone else read a newspaper quoting Bentsen as having called the Democratic Rebuilding Committee “jackals.” Bentsen launched into a mildly heated explanation, saying the Rebuilding Committee was showing a film in the ghettos that portrays him as a racist. “I’ve been a supporter of civil rights. In 1949 I voted against the poll tax. I don’t know how you prove you don’t discriminate. I get a little disturbed over that particular charge.” He sounded a little disturbed and it produced a good reaction. Another student informed him that he’d just received an F rating in a survey in Playboy magazine. “What were we being rated on?” asked Bentsen with a grin. Good laugh. He was told that Playboy had called him a reactionary racist. He protested, “I was born on the Mexican border. More than half my constituents were Mexican-Americans.” He closed by saying, “I’ll be looking forward to reading that issue.” Did he support Nixon’s welfare-reform bill, the guaranteed annual income concept? “I believe those who cannot support themselves, the blind, the infirm and children, should be provided a decent standard of living. Obviously we need welfare reform. The system is a national disgrace. But this bill is full of loopholes. It would increase the welfare rolls by 10 to 24 million. To take an extreme example, in New York a mother of four might get more on welfare than a working mother who earned $7,000.” Sir, are you against the g.i.a. concept? “Well, you know this guaranteed annual income means so many different things and can be defined so many different ways. I am for welfare reform.” The students seemed to sense a fudge, but didn’t follow it up. He gained a point by stating he supported reduced penalties for marijuana possession. And increased penalties for pushers. Someone tried to point out that users are pushers and vice versa. Bentsen turned it off. He lost a point when questioned on the report of the commission that studied the effects of pornography. “I would not agree with these experts when they say obscenity is not harmful to adults,” he said. IN RESPONSE to a charge that he ran a smear campaign against Ralph Yarborough, Bentsen said he had been smeared by Yarborough, that Yarborough’s people ran a radio ad in the Valley just before the primary that made Bentsen seem a racist and it was false. The students seemed not to notice that fudge. When it was over it seemed to be Bentsen’s game, at least on technique. “Boy, he really knows how to turn questions around,” said an admiring would-be Percy Foreman. Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr. On to McKinney. A press conference in the community room of a bank. Coffee and cookies again. Mostly the same questions. Mostly the same answers. What do you think of the report of the commission on campus unrest? “I think it is ridiculous and totally unjust to blame the entire responsibility for student unrest on the President of the U.S.,, Do you support a guaranteed annual income? “No, I do not.” What do you think of the bill to give equal legal rights to women? “I haven’t studied it.” The welfare reform bill? He repeated the same outrageous example of the woman who might get more than $7,000. Where did he get that example? “From testimony before the Senate committee.” The press conference was adjourned and Bentsen decamped to the tiny local Democratic Headquarters where about 30 P.F. showed up to shake his hand and take on a superior assortment of cookies. Next a reception at the home of the Roland Boyds, who are Democratic honchos in the county. Ben Barnes was there as were John and Nellie Connally. Several hundred people went through the reception line in a good-sized living room that looked like a department store furniture display. All-white, well-dressed, almost no one under 30. An out of state reporter was fascinated by the fact that the women’s hair didn’t move so much as a millimeter in the strong wind. The Bentsens, the Connallys and Barnes did the reception line bit very nicely. Eugene Locke appeared. THEN TO PLANO for a Jetton barbecue dinner in the high school gym. \(How can a partisan political dinner be glittered as much as any affair could in a gym with a large Plano Wildcat snarling on the wall. A country and western trio played. The Connallys, Barnes, Democratic Party treasurer Robert Struass, State Rep. Bob Hendrix, State Sen. Ralph Hall, and about 500 other folks were there as-well. Tedious introductions. Barnes went first. Mediocre speech. Standing ovation. Bentsen next, introduced as a real Texan. He spoke about the importance of electing a Democrat, a little on inflation, and then, “I feel that as your senatorial candidate I owe you a little explanation of my basic philosophy. “I believe every man should have an opportunity to a decent wage and a decent job and decent housing. I believe that every citizen should be allowed to rise as high and as fast as his energies and abilities will take him and I think he can in this country. We are not through perfecting this great democracy of ours and I want to be one of the builders.” Standing ovation. Connally went up and walked away with the evening. Speaking in finest Lyndon-Johnson-Florid, Barn-Burner-Baptist he went on for at least 45 minutes and bored no one. Good partisan political _digs. He took dozens of swipes at Republicans and gave the “statesmanlike” label to Bentsen. He shagged around the small podium, roaring out rhetorical questions, pointing an admonitory finger and calling on the P.F. to elect a senator in the great Democratic tradition of John Stennis, Richard Russell, and John McClelland. The P.F. loved it. Whoop. Hurray. Hurrah. Bentsen split for a Graham Purcell testimonial dinner. The cumulative impression of Bentsen’s campaign at this point is that he is taking a considerably higher road than he did in the primary campaign. There’s no gut-fighting, no name-calling, no smears, and only a few digs. He’s capitalizing on his dignified appearance and coming across as a statesmanlike fellow. It is difficult to disagree with almost anything he is saying in his campaign appearances since he is saying almost nothing, thereby alienating no one. Impossible to think of anyone anywhere who would disagree with his “basic philosophy.” His personal appearances seem almost beside the point, a pro forma ritual, while the bulk of the campaign money and effort goes to billboards and the media campaign. The plugs he’s getting from the more popular Democratic pols in the state, particularly Barnes and Connally, appear to be doing him much good with party regulars. The regulars would certainly vote for Bentsen anyway but they are stirred to the kind of enthusiasm it takes to get out and work by Connally’s speeches. For the most part Bentsen’s campaign is now inefftliiVe. Or at least unobnoxious. M.I. October 30, 1970 5
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