If horses could vote… Perry, continued from page 18 front of the courthouse, Perry was one of the first to disembark and was now wearing pressed Wranglers and a shortsleeved, khaki shirt. The crowd was much smaller here, consisting mostly of law enforcement types, and Perry kept his speech short. Since there seemed to be no media at this stop, I felt emboldened to ask Black if I could join the group. He shook his head, cheerful as ever, and said, “I think we’ll just leave it like it is.” Everybody piled back into their vehicles. We passed more goats, sheep, and horses, as well as a lot of wild animals, such as porcupines and rabbits, that had been flattened by the mon’ster trucks and SUVs that clogged the bucolic Hill Country roadways. On one stretch of the highway, two farmworkers straddling a lawn mower paused respectfully while the red-white-andblue bus passed. The wind knocked both their hats off. At Hondo’s restaurant in Fredericksburg, about 100 people turned out. Though they seemed to be mostly white, pudgy people over the age of 60, they were the governor’s base, and he delivered his speech with gusto; repeating his remarks about Ann Richards \(“We didn’t always Massachusetts \(“That don’t pass the Gov. Schwarzenegger \(“Nothing tickles Then it was back to squeezing shoulders, slapping backs, shaking hands. “I’m glowing,” Maria Oliver said later. “He’s just the most handsome man I’ve seen in a long time. My gosh, it’s no wonder he gets the woman vote.” By the time the shindig was over, I was starved and pulled into a store on Main Street to grab some food. But I had to abort the mission when I spotted the bus in my rearview mirror. Traffic was bumper to bumper on Main Street, and for the first time that day, I got dropped from the motorcade. But Boerne wasn’t far away. I pushed in a CD and cruised through the country, enjoying the smoky blue hills. ‘ When I got to Boerne, everything was not all sweetness and light. In the park across the street from Ye Kendall Inn, where Perry was giving his fourth stump speech of the day, a small group of demonstrators was protesting the governor’s plan to build a network of gigantic toll roads. “We’d like to send a message to Gov. Rick Perry that we don’t want any toll roads in Texas. We don’t want the Trans-Texas Corridor either. We’re very against foreign ownership, and we don’t like the fact that these highway contracts are being done in secrecy,” said Byron Juen. A fellow protester named Carol also had unkind words for the governor: “I’m a U.S. citizen and a taxpayer. He’s just a crook.” A man hauling his household goods in a flatbed trailer gave them a thumbsup. But one of the Republicans exiting the rally taunted them mercilessly. “Toll them all! Toll them all! It’s great driving through Texas!” he shouted out his window. When he finished his speech, Perry indulged in a leisurely chat with a couple of people on the front porch of the inn. The protesters across the street continued to chant at him and wave their signs up and down, but they could have been grackles for all he cared. Maybe all the hugging, handshaking, and talking were getting to Perry, because somewhere between Boerne and Bandera, he got down on all fours on the floor of the bus and imitated a camel, according to the San Antonio Express -News. \(Hoping to witness a little unscripted action like this myself was Bandera, the so-called cowboy capital of Texas, turned out to be the most festive whistle-stop of all. Members of the Bandera High School band and the Bandera Posse were on hand to greet the governor. Perry stroked the noses of the horses, gave a subdued “yee haw,” then ducked into the China Bowl Restaurant. For the fifth time that day, he launched into his stump speech, delivering his lines like they had just popped into his head. Perhaps it was the proximity of the horses, but for some reason he had begun sounding like an extra from “Brokeback Mountains’ “Pie” became “paaah.” “For” was “fer.” And “sky” stretched into “skaah.” In the middle of his speech, the restaurant’s phone began to ring. No one seemed to know what to do, and the damned thing wouldn’t quit. The owner started for the kitchen, then hesitated, thinking perhaps it was rude to walk out on the governor. After five or six rings, Perry detoured from his script. “Somebody pick up the phone!” he said. “It might be an order!” When the laughter died down, he added, “That’s economic development:’ With that, he owned the house. Come November it looks like voters could give him a new lease on the governor’s mansion as well. OCTOBER 6, 2006 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31
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