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Heat the press Poor old Gerald Ford just can’t seem to get the hang of campaign ing in Texas. In his losing 1976 bid for election to the presidency, Ford made a political swing through the Lone Star state and astounded his local supporters by trying to eat a tamale with the shuck still on it. Two years later, out in San Angelo, the titular head of the Republican Party has managed to create another PR disaster for himself. The former president was coming to this metropolis of the rolling prairies to boost the Republican candidacy, of Tom Loeffler, who is running for Congress against Democratic nominee Nelson Wolff. The specific occasion was an August 17 fundraiser for Loeffler at San Angelo’s exclusive River Club. San Angelinos, who hadn’t seen a president in the flesh since Lyndon quit the hustings, generally were “up” for the visit, and 21st district Republicans were downright giddy at the thought of a presidential blessing of their man. Then Ford struck. He found out that members of the working press were invited to the River Club reception. It is common for journalists to attend these affairs, but Ford wasn’t having any of itapparently, he doesn’t want any low-life reporters mingling with him and the well-heeled. To the chagrin of the Loeffler campaign staff, some reporters had to be “disinvited.” To make the faux pas worse, it was decided that four local media executives who had been invited would be allowed to come ahead after all, since they “act at the managerial level” rather than as reporters, according to a Loeffler PR aide. This same aide tried to rationalize the “no press” dictum by explaining that the reception was a fundraiser and that the Loeffler contributors in attendance “may or may not want to be identified with him or with Ford.” It was suggested by reporters that just one of their rank be allowed into the executive gathering, but Ford vetoed that too. For his part, Loeffler said he was not in charge and knew nothing about it. In an effort to calm reporters, many of whom were traveling some distance to record the news event, Loeffler staffers pointed out that an airport press conference was scheduled when Ford arrived, and they could at least query him there. It was 102 degrees the afternoon Ford arrived, and the ex-president was running late, keeping the assembled reporters waiting more than an hour. He gave them less than four and a half minutes of his time before rushing off to the River Club. Voting power In his re-election bid this spring, Dolph Briscoe was counting on a strong showing in Mexican-American precincts. He didn’t get it, according to data released by the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, based in San Antonio. John Hill took 60 percent of the vote in the state’s 247 predominantly Mexican-American precincts, while Briscoe had to settle for only 33 percent. In its exhaustive study SVREP points out that the 102,280 votes cast for Hill in these precincts were a decisive factor in his clear-cut, May 6 victory over the incumbent. In the Democratic contest for U.S. Senator, the Mexican-American precincts gave 53 percent of their votes to Bob Krueger, with 47 percent going to Joe Christie. In the primary battle for attorney general, Price Daniel Jr. won 53 percent of the Mexican-American vote and Mark White took 47 percent. SVREP director William Velasquez points out, however, that the political punch delivered by Mexican-Americans this year is a mere shadow of its potential. Only 58 percent of those eligible are registered to vote, and in this year’s gubernatorial primary only 29 percent of those registered turned up at the polls. “If Mexican-American voters actually registered and voted at rates comparable to the general community, they would have tremendous political weight,” Velasquez said. Copies of the full report are available from SVREP, 212 East Houston Street, San Antonio 78205 Meanwhile, back at the Alamo Another candidate who is counting on a substantial showing in the Mexican-American precincts is Bill Clements, the Republican offering for governor, who has boasted that chicano voters this fall will provide his margin of victory over Democrat John Hill. He claims he will get 25 percent of their ballots. That will take some pretty high stepping, since no statewide GOP candidate except John Tower has ever pulled as much as 10 percent of the MexicanAmerican vote. As if that were not challenge enough, Clements made his burden all the heavier in July with a stormy firing of his only Mexican-American aide, who later told the press that Clements’s campaign staff was making a token effort to win the chicano vote. Then, in August, the Dallas millionaire tripped on his infamous lip by wholeheartedly embracing the white man’s notion of noblesse oblige according to Dallas Morning News reporter Lloyd Grove, who was there, Clements made an unscheduled campaign stop at an historic mission outside of Goliad, where he delivered an impromptu history lesson to all within earshot, extolling the Spanish fathers who had rounded up the local Aranama Indians and “domesticated themkind of like you tame a wild animal.” The guber natorial candidate went on: “You can look at it in the philosophical sense and say, ‘Is this area of Texas more productive, more fulfilling of God’s purpose are we playing our role of destiny with this broad expanse, of Texas?than when there were let’s just say 5,000 Indians here eatin’ insects?’ These questions sort of answer themselves.”. Later during this same South Texas campaign swing, Clements was being pressed for details about issues of concern to Mexican-Americans and he blurted, “I’m not running for governor of Mexico, you know.” For their part, John Hill partisans are hoping that Clements will get out and speak personally to every Mexican-American voter in Texas, and they’ll even be willing to pay their share of his travel expenses. . THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13