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Texas Gives Momentum to Bush and Clinton

By Scott PendletonStaff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / March 12, 1992



AUSTIN, TEXAS

TEXANS gave their Super Tuesday support to adopted son George Bush and neighbor Bill Clinton of Arkansas, much to no one's surprise.

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President Bush got 70 percent of the 770,000 Republican primary votes cast. That showing betters his performance of 64 percent in the 1988 primary, although then as now he won every delegate.

Bush's Texas campaign was heavily outspent, particularly in television advertising, by that of Patrick Buchanan, said James Oberwetter, chairman of Bush's reelection effort. But "to no great effect," he added.

"Clearly, the air is going out of Buchanan's balloon," says Mr. Oberwetter. Mr. Buchanan obtained 24 percent of the Republican vote.

The Bush campaign had focused on the state's three new congressional districts and on districts near Louisiana that might have gone for David Duke.

The Bush campaign "misjudged" the threat from Mr. Duke, who got only 3 percent of the vote, Oberwetter said. "His campaign fell flat."

Bill Clinton built momentum for next week's primaries in Illinois and Michigan with 65 percent of the 1.5 million Democrat votes cast. Officially, his campaign staff was claiming that Governor Clinton had done even better than expected.

Privately, though, they admitted Clinton was holding virtually every card in Texas: being from the region, having decades-old friendships with state party officials, and fielding a massive organization.

One campaign staff member, expecting no damage here from the personal issues that were raised about Clinton in New Hampshire, confided that she bet money that Clinton would win 72 percent of the vote.

"It's a strong win," the staff member said. "We were somewhat immune to New Hampshire trash [rumors, innuendos]."

Paul Tsongas received just 19 percent of the vote, while Jerry Brown got 8 percent. An official with the Brown campaign speculated that as much as a percentage point was lost due to nonrecognition by voters of "Edmund G. Brown Jr.," as Brown was listed on the Texas ballot.

The big winner was a non-binding referendum on term limitations, with more than 84 percent of voters in favor. Kevin Moomaw, state director of Bush's campaign, was asked if the Republicans had a position on term limitations. Gazing at the the landslide results, he replied, "They do now."