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Perry, White make late push to mobilize voters

Nov. 2, 2010


By Jay Root and Kelley Shannon
Associated Press

DALLAS -- An uncharacteristically feisty Bill White made a last-minute push to turn out supporters for his Democratic gubernatorial campaign Monday, saying Gov. Rick Perry had been in office so long he'd "lost touch with reality." Perry made a last blitz through the state's major cities, saying he and fellow Republicans would begin today with the "wind at our back."

White, known for his low-key demeanor, was more animated than usual in the final campaign stops Monday.

"Are y'all ready for a new governor now?" White said when greeting cheering Dallas supporters.

White told campaign workers at his Dallas headquarters Monday that the election will be tight and that the volunteers will be part of history -- if supporters turn out.

"I've got to tell you, it's going to be close," he said. "We have not that many hours to convince people to go out and vote."

Perry, holding a double-digit lead in the latest polls, also encouraged supporters who hadn't yet voted to hit the polling places today. But he confidently predicted he and his fellow Republican candidates will prevail.

"There is a very strong Republican conservative, small government, fiscal conservative wave cresting across this country," Perry told reporters after addressing a small gathering of Republicans at Maggiano's Italian restaurant in Dallas. "Texas is no different."

Perry was traveling with other statewide office holders who were just as animated as the Democrats.

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson described the GOP gathering as "folks who I would describe as liberty-loving, gun-owning, God-fearing, socialism-hating, big government-opposing, oil-and-gas-drilling Texas Republicans who are better for it, not bitter about it."

Perry and his entourage, which included Comptroller Susan Combs and Republican candidate for Railroad Commission David Porter, focused their attention on the national Democratic ticket, and didn't mention White.

"We're all going to win, you know that," Patterson said. "In part because we're doing a good job and in part because we've got (President Barack) Obama and (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi on the lead banner of the other party."

Such comments clearly irritated White. He scolded Perry for writing a book, which is set to come out after the election, and accused Perry of using the governor's office to sell books. He told volunteers that they should boot Perry out of office so he'll have plenty of time to publicize his book, which champions states' rights and is called "FED UP."

"You can go on your national book tour and you'll have no conflict with being governor at the same time," White said, to laughs from the crowd.

Perry's publisher, Hachette Book Group, caught the governor's campaign off guard by releasing excerpts from the book Monday. Perry had planned to begin to release excerpts after the election today.

The governor keeps up his anti-Washington stump remarks, but adds extra fire to them in the book. Perry says Americans are in a fight to "retake the reins of our government from a Washington establishment that has abused our trust." He calls it "a battle for the soul of America."

He also describes Social Security as a "failure" and a "Ponzi scheme," giving White a chance to repeat that line to an enthusiastic crowd in Corpus Christi who booed loudly.

Asked at a Monday event for his campaign at a San Antonio restaurant, Perry declined repeatedly to address the disclosures -- especially whether he equated Social Security to an illegal scam.

"You don't know what's in there. The book is going to come out at the appropriate time," he said.

Perry said that after the election, when he plans a tour to promote sales of the volume, "maybe we'll have a little peek of it." Asked again about his comments on Social Security, "I think that you all ought to wait and read the book yourself, and then you'll get to decide what's in there."

White said Perry is wrong when he says Texas' economy is in good shape. He said there are more Texans unemployed than ever, and that the state's jobless rate is higher than some neighboring states.

"The fact is, that he's lost touch with reality," White said.

Molly Hanchey, North Texas director for the Bill White campaign, predicted a victory for White in Dallas County and said it will be a "tipping point" for him statewide.

She said the Dallas headquarters was making a hard push for "persuadable Republicans" who had voted for U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in her primary contest against Perry.

"We've had a long time to focus on speaking to that Republican individual who, quite frankly, is very unnerved by the current governor," Hanchey said.

State records showed that about one-fifth of eligible voters cast their ballots in the early voting period that ended Friday, about 1.7 million Texans.

Perry, also traveling with two planeloads of media, mused about the final day of the campaign.

"We worked hard to get as many of our supporters out during early voting, but tomorrow is the big day," he said. "Tomorrow is the final game of the World Series. It's the Super Bowl. It's every athletic comparable that you can come up with."