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CQ Profile: CQ Profile: Gov. George Bush (R)

CQ Profile: CQ Profile: Garry Mauro (D)

AllPolitics' Election '98: Texas

Stuart Rothenberg on the 1998 Governor Races, State by State


Poll: Bush, Gore early front-runners for 2000 (10-27-98)

The connection between '98 and 2000 (9-16-98)

Handicapping the 2000 GOP field (4-21-98)


George W. Bush's campaign Web site

Garry Mauro's campaign Web site


Post your opinions on the November races

Days away from re-election, will Texas Gov. Bush run for president next?

Former president's son comes into his own

By Candy Crowley/CNN

LAREDO, Texas (October 29) -- George W. Bush may one day decide to try to follow in his father's footsteps and make a White House bid. But for now, the Texas governor is working on a successful campaign for re-election.

There are times that he will turn a certain way and you think, "He is so much like his Dad." And there are times that he will talk and you think, "He sounds just like his mother."

Gov. George W. Bush gets
campaign help from his mother,
the former first lady

But it is the differences that make him compelling. For one thing this George Bush is a terrific campaigner, thriving on the limelight, diving into crowds.

This George Bush is a retail politician, touching, hugging and autographing his way along the campaign trail. "So when you get into that booth, of course, be thinking about old George W.," he urged voters at one stop.

From the twang on his lips to the soles of his cowboy boots this Eastern-educated George Bush has cultivated his Texas roots and grown himself one whale of a political career.

He is just days away from becoming the first Texas governor in 25 years to be re-elected to consecutive terms. Will he run for the top job as an encore?

"I believe that somebody is going to have to step up and help elevate the spirit of America and provide leadership as we go into the 21st century. And I just haven't made up my mind if I want to try to be that fellow," Bush said.

The governor as president? It's happened before and a new CNN poll shows him soundly beating Vice President Al Gore in a head-to-head race, 57-39 percent.

"I'm interested; otherwise I would have said no," Bush said.

The Bush buzz has been there is something in his past that could not withstand the national limelight.

"That is baloney," insists his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, who appeared with the governor at one campaign stop. "He said one time that he was not perfect growing up. Well, maybe he wasn't, but his mother and father did not have a worry about him. So that's just crazy."

"Never, never tell them you weren't perfect, George," Mrs. Bush instructs her son.

There is a nervous intensity about him -- a kind of cat-like edginess behind the good ol' boy that makes you wonder if he would blow under pressure.

"His Achilles heel is he is very thin-skinned," said R.G. Ratcliff of The Houston Chronicle. "And on the stage, the national stage, under scrutiny and pressure, I could easily see him losing his temper in a way that would come back to haunt him in a presidential race."

But Bush says it is not the scrutiny that gives him pause. "I am conflicted about what this would mean to my wife and my children," he says.

"It's the lifestyle. It is committing a woman I love and two little girls that I love to a lifestyle that is very intrusive and very public."

Bush's hesitation seems as genuine as the sense you get that he really wants to run.

Logistically, Bush's campaign against Democrat land commissioner Garry Mauro already has the feel of a presidential bid. Beyond the golden Rolodex that comes with the Bush name, the governor's operation is a well-oiled machine that, given the odds in this race, looks like piling on.

Philosophically, George W. is one of a new breed of Republican leaders.

"The Republican party better cede to a new brand of leadership or it's not going to win," he says. "And that leadership says, 'I am a conservative. I've got a conservative philosophy.' But be able to make the case that the conservative philosophy will lead to a more compassionate tomorrow."

It is, if you will, a kinder, gentler brand of Republicanism, a limited, but unapologetic role for government combined with the politics of inclusion. "People want leadership that unites, not divides. You can't bash people and lead," Bush said.

It has worn well in Texas, inside and outside traditional Republican territory.

It is a measure of Bush's popularity that in one of the final days of this campaign he came to Laredo and to other towns along the Texas border with Mexico. Bush is actively courting the traditionally Democratic, Hispanic vote because he says this is not just about putting a new face on the Republican party; it is about bringing new faces into the Republican party.

He has fought against English-only campaigns and pushed other programs important to Texas' hispanic voters.

But when you ask that is not what they talk about. "We are very conservative. We have five children and I believe he is the right man for everything just because of the values he has and all that," one Hispanic woman said.

Bush could win re-election in Texas with the 20 to 25 percent of the Hispanic vote Republican candidates usually get. But this governor wants 40 percent.

"Hopefully in my election, if I do well, it will help set a new tone and will cause other people to say, 'Well, I'll try it Bush's way.' Maybe they won't, but I will tell you the old way of Republicans trying to attract the vote hasn't worked."

George W. has quipped that he has his father's eyes and his mother's mouth. But mostly what you see these days when you look at the governor of Texas is someone who has come into his own.

"I am a comfortable man. I am comfortable with myself and if I were never to be president, I wouldn't think anything less of myself," Bush said.


Thursday, October 29, 1998

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