ran headlines about how at every meeting Bush had, all they started out talking about was the Sierra Blanca site. And the Austin American-Statesman runs an editorial about tuberculosis and what a great governor we’ve got. [Meanwhile] Mexico’s newspapers are running headline stories saying, “This guy is breaking the La Paz Agreement and he’s thumbing his nose at us.” How do you get your message out when the public perceives that Governor Bush is a nice guy, the son of a former president, and the economy is strong? And how much money does it take to get the message to the public? I would be lying to you if I said I am going to have fifteen to sixteen to seventeen million. But I’ll have enough to get the message out. Meanwhile, I’ve got volunteers knocking on a million doors, meeting with a million Texas families. I personally knocked on 2,100 doors in thirty-four cities. I think the volunteers will hit a hundred thousand while I’m in Houston. And the press coverage is unbelievable. I’m on the front page of every small-town newspaper, not just the weeklies. The Beaumont paper had me on the front page with my Jasper walk. The Lufkin paper had me on the front page with my Lufkin walk. The Tyler paper had me on the front page. The Longview paper had me on the front page. We are getting very good coverage. When does that kind of campaigning begin to change the dynamics of the race and close the big gap in the polls? My own polls have me behind. But instead of fifty-two points’ , they have me twenty-five points behind. And twenty-five points is about where a challenger running against a popular incumbent governor ought to be in July. In January, the poll was right; I was fifty points behind in January. It’s not right, now. The Texas Poll [used by most state newspapers] is run by academics who are polling on issues. It’s not a political poll. They don’t use registered voter lists. They don’t use screens. It’s just not a very good poll. Does your own polling suggest that your campaign should run directly at Bush not just a “negative campaign,” but an aggressive examination of his record? We’re going to run a “negative campaign” in the sense that we’re going to lay out his position and my position. My positions poll in the 60s, 70s, and 80s [percent]. His positions poll in the 30s, 20s, and 10s…. It’s easy to be for George Bush. He’s Barbara Bush’s son. We’ve got a good economy. The average person, the average voter, doesn’t believe that government does anything relevant to their lives. So until I lay out how I’m going to be relevant in their lives, they’re going to be for George Bush. But once I break through the barrier, people understand that George Bush’s good family and Bill Clinton’s economy is not a reason to elect this guy. I’m cracking through the barrier right now. I’m knocking on a million doors. The Democratic convention really did energize several thousand workers and they left that convention with a lot of enthusiasm. How difficult is it to run at the top of a ticket that doesn’t have the full support of the party leaders and all the candidates for example, the reluctance of John Sharp and Paul Hobby to support you at the state convention, and Bob Bullock’s support of Bush? Hobby said that he was for me, he’s going to vote for the Democratic ticket, and he would have been on the stage at the convention if he had been there. But he was with his family and his kids. Bullock endorsed my opponent in October. How many times are you guys going to give him a news peg? He’s irrelevant. I mean, in the last poll, 15 percent of the people recognized him. He’s not a help anymore. He’s dead. He’s gone. He’s nobody. He’s a lobbyist. There are about 3,300 Democratic elected officials in the state; 100 are for Bush. That leaves me with 3,200, and I think that’s all right. But does Bob Bullock represent the leadership of the Democratic Party? He doesn’t represent the Democratic Party. He lost the Senate for us. He’s a lobbyist. I know Bob real well. I like him. And I know a lot about his politics. Remember, I worked in his first campaign. But there’s not one single person I can think of who’s not supporting me because of Bob Bullock except maybe the lobbyists here. And I don’t want them. In 1982 there was a unified Democratic ticket, and you, Ann Richards, Jim Mattox, and Jim Hightower ran as a slate. What really made that campaign work was synergy…. We didn’t start out together. Every election I’ve ever run in, and I’ve run four times, we start off running our own campaigns and come together later. But I knew we were in deep trouble in ’94, four weeks out from the election, when I went to Palestine and a local newspaper reporter said, “Well, you’re the first Democrat who’s come to Palestine…. But every Republican has been here and you’re the first Democrat to come.” My point is that in ’82, the biggest problem was scheduling; we had to set up scheduling meetings, because I, 16 THE TEXAS OBSERVER AUGUST 14, 1998
You May Also Like
The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.