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II. Texas Battleground TEXAS REPUBLICANS left their national convention in Houston more optimistic about the general election, but Democrats saw few surprises at the Astrodome and believe Texas clearly is winnable. “This convention has clearly drawn th difference between Democrats and Republicans, Clinton and Bush, and I think people have gotten their marching orders and have these issues now in terms that the average American voter can understand, and understand clearly, and we’re going out to spread that word big-time,” Texas Republican Chairman Fred Meyer said. “I think the key issue is Bill Clinton’s record in Arkansas and the President’s leadership, integrity and experience as President. We’re right on the issues and the whole agenda has moved significantly to the right,” Meyer said; adding that he expects the bulk of Ross Perot’s supporters to move into the Republican column and Bush to overtake Clinton in the polls this fall. “Their number one issue was deficit reduction, responsible government. Those are our issues,” Meyer said. Kirk Adams, director of Unity ’92, which is overseeing the statewide Democratic campaign, said he believes Clinton can carry Texas if he keeps focusing on the economy. Adams, son-inlaw of Gov. Ann Richards, said the GOP goingson did not suprise him. “It certainly tells us what are the themes they’re going to be pounding on. They weren’t particularly subtle about it,” Adams said. “I think they’re running an ’88 campaign, which is fine with me. I think we know how to beat an ’88 campaign. An ’88 campaign doesn’t win in ’92.” In 1988, the Democrats left their convention leading by 7 points in Texas, Adams said. After the GOP convention, the Democrats were down by 12 points, “and we never came back,” Adams said. This year polls showed the Democratic ticket up by 25 points nationally and as much as 17 points in Texas. “I think we can safely say we’re not 12 points down at this point,” Adams said, adding that he suspects the Democrats are still leading by 8 or 9 points in Texas. “If we can keep talking about jobs, we’re going to win the election and they’re going to do everything they can to keep people from thinking about jobs,” Adams told the Austin Democratic Forum. Turnout in South Texas is expected to be a key, but Clinton has ties in South Texas that go back to his role as Texas coordinator for George McGovern in 1972, and Albert Gore worked the area in his 1988 race for President. The ballot also includes Lena Guerrero running for Railroad Commission and Pete Benavides for the Court of Criminal Appeals, as well as several spirited races in Bexar County. East Texas one of the main battlegrounds is shaping up well for the Democrats, Adams said. At rallies that used to attract small groups, he said, “We now see a broad spectrum of folks, including 25-to-55-year-old Anglo males who haven’t voted Democratic in a long time.” With Sen. Lloyd Bentsen. Gov . Richards and former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros leading the way this year, the Democrats are telling their story. The way Adams sees it, California is leaning toward Clinton and Florida is leading toward Bush, making Texas a key state. “If George Bush doesn’t win this state, he doesn’t win this election. For every dollar we drop here, he’s going to drop three, and that’s fine with us. Let him waste it.” The Democratic Unity ’92 effort has budgeted $2.5 million to $3 million for its field work, and Clinton already has committed to put up a third of that cost. “There’s no question in my mind that Bill Clinton thinks he can win this state,” Adams said, adding that fundraising is going well. “I think the enthusiasm is at the level where not only the traditional but the non-traditional -even the Republican sources are looking at us because they’ve lost faith with the guy in the White House.” Republican hopes depend on winning big in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, but cuts in military projects have hit Fort Worth, which may benefit the Democrats. The GOP has the ambition of gaining majorities in the Texas Senate and on the state Supreme Court and picking up a few congressional seats. “I feel very good about Texas right now. The President and the Republicans are right on the issues,” Meyer said, dismissing the threat of a desertion of the party by Republicans who support abortion rights. Bill Clinton had to be encouraged by the enthusiastic turnout on his recent bus tour through Texas, with stops in San Antonio, Austin and Waco and a swing through East Texas. Clinton told the Austin crowd, estimated at 15,000, the Republicans are raising family values because they have little else to run on. “They can’t afford to have this race be about the economy. [Bush] talked 35 seconds about the economy. He wanted it to be about trust. Here’s a guy who said ‘read my lips.’ He promised 15 million new jobs. He’s over 14 million short…. He promised to be the environmental president, the education president and he promised us a kinder and gentler country. He wants this race to be about trust? Let me tell you something, folks. Unlike them, I trust you.” Clinton also defended the much-maligned Democratic Congress, which adopted a tax bill earlier this year that would have given incentives for plants and equipment that kept jobs in America. The bill also had incentives to revive the energy industry, real estate and small business and give middle-income families a modest tax break, he said, but Bush vetoed the bill because it would have raised taxes on the upper 2 percent income levels. “Don’t you let him get away with that smoke screen,” Clinton said. Clinton has in mind “more tax incentives to create manufacturing jobs at home but no more for short-term bogus financial deals and moving our jobs overseas.” He also proposed a national service trust fund to help any American finance college education, with the money to be paid back either through earnings or work as teacher, police officer, social worker. He also said America must control health care costs and provide basic health care to all Americans. “And the only way you get national health care in America is to vote for Bill Clinton and Al Gore,” he said. “We believe that you have to be pro-environment and pro-economic growth, that you can be pro-business and pro-environment and prolabor, and yes, we do believe you can be profamily and pro-choice,” he said, getting a roar from the crowd. Ann Richards, stirring up the crowd before Clinton, played down some of President Bush’s foreign policy claims. She noted that while she has been Governor, the Soviet empire has dissolved and the Berlin Wall has come down. “I had as much to do with it as George Bush did,” she said, to cheers. Richards said the Republicans remind her of turkey hunters, who “hunker down under a tree with camouflage all over you, trying to pretend that you’re something you’re not,” while somebody else works a call to make the turkey think something good is in store. “Then that turkey shows up and you just blow his head off,” she said, adding, “The American people are not going to listen to these camouflage guys anymore.” U S. Sen. Al Gore, whose book on the environment has been attacked as extremist by Bush and Quayle, debunked their assertions that environmental protection costs jobs. “I’m here at the home of Barton Springs to tell you that that self-proclaimed environmental president just plain has it wrong. This country can and must create millions of new jobs by leading the environmental revolution, not dragging our feet,” the Vice Presidential candidate said. Kay Hutchison, who received valuable exposure as temporary chairwoman of the convention, prompted speculation on what higher office she might have her sights set. She said she would like to be Governor or Senator or perhaps Dallas County Commissioner. . “I am running for Treasurer in two years,” she said, although she is not ruling anything out. “I might run for [Dallas County] commissioner if I got really mad about what they were doing,” she said. J.C. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15