lab 01.98Mdziti hitrican N.A.:Watuutittmammi.iltudidiA uW4ivlViUi Nwyy him squirm during the last few days before the primary. Standing beside Bush and Reagan on separate occasions at Capitol press conferences, the governor fought off persistent questions about which way he was leaning. At one point Bush came to the governor’s rescue to prop up the vow of neutrality. The former U.N. ambassador made a good-natured request of the press to leave Clements alone. With Bush shown trailing in the opinion polls, he said the governor was simply “trying not to embarrass an old friend.” But Bush may also have been trying to prevent his own plea for the governor’s endorsement from backfiring. Nonetheless, Clements stayed out of the heated contest. Clements’ fence-straddling, carried out so openly, bemused many travelling reporters. One correspondent for the sober Times of London was led to comment, “There isn’t a politican anywhere else that would dare try something so brazen as this .. but here he can get away with it.” handfuls of delegates, is an invitation to hit the showers, where we now find Messrs. Connally, Brown, Baker, et. al. Of course, this is outrageous. Presidents shouldn’t be chosen like baseball teams or soft drinks. But this year that’s what we’ve got, and it seems amazing that in Texas, where practical response to the laws of nature and politics is deeply ingrained, a rare opportunity to manipulate the system to enter the political limelight was tossed aside almost carelessly. A state with 12 million voters, a third of the nation’s oil and gas reserves, three of the country’s ten most populous cities, major Hispanic and black populations On Sunday afternoon, the day before Clements threw his support to Reagan, the governor huddled for several hours with party leaders and his key political advisors. The meeting was to “reassess” the governor’s position in the race. Bush, Reagan and former Gov. John Connally, who dropped from the presidential race March 9, all endorsed Clements in 1978. Although it had been speculated that Reagan was Clements’ personal choice all along, there may have been some handwringing in the governor’s chambers over how to endorse the presidential frontrunner without alienating the large number of Bush devotees in Texas. In any event, there are two schools of thought on all this. One school believes that Clements’ 20/20 hindsight is a reflection of his keen and wily political craft, his ability to make shrewd and winning calculations in the midst of crossfire. The other school and a readily marketable Texas mystique should have been used as a critical forum for the first non-Northeast presidential battle. Instead, we got what they call in the legislature half a loaf, as in better than no loaf at all. Partly this was due to the very pressures of time and media and advertising that offered Texas temporary stardom, partly it was due to poor analysis and partly to debilitating indecision by the state party leadership. Since Kennedy’s entry into the presidential race, Texas Democrats had been jockeying for position for their candidates. One meas THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5
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