- The Washington Times - Monday, October 23, 2000

DALLAS Many Texans say the bad-mouthing of their state by the Gore campaign is not only strengthening George W. Bush at home but may help him in other states.

In one debate, Vice President Al Gore charged that Texas ranked near the bottom among states in providing social services such as alleviating child poverty, spending on children without health insurance and spending per student on education.

Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joseph I. Lieberman, looking a bit out of place, walked through the barrios of south Texas to make the point that some residents do not have water.

And the Gore campaign has noted that Houston has surpassed Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in the nation.

"It's politics as usual," said Maurice Garvey, 48, an El Paso securities salesman. "If Bush came from Colorado or Michigan, we'd be hearing about how bad those states were."

"If Texas is so bad," said Paul G. Smith, 66, a San Antonio military retiree, "why is it everybody wants to move here?" He was referring to a report that nine major Texas cities have more than doubled their populations since 1990.

Tom Marr, 54, a hair stylist who operates shops in both Dallas and Paris, said that since the Democrats began disparaging Texas earlier this month, his customers seem to have become more pro-Bush.

"Before the debates," he said, "all I heard was Gore, Gore, Gore. Now it seems the exact opposite. And part of it is what people think is a completely unfair attack on Bush's record."

Debbie, a caller to a Houston radio talk show who did not give her last name, said that if any other state had "the problem with alien infusion" that Texas does, its record on services for the indigent and poor would be far worse.

Dale Wamstad, 55, a Dallas restaurant magnate, agreed. Mr. Wamstad, a transplanted Louisianan, said he had become somewhat chagrined that Mr. Bush did not point out the problem.

"Both [wife] Colleen and I think he is afraid to get into that because he's afraid of losing the Hispanic vote," said Mr. Wamstad. "I think he got a real bad rap on that. I think the way they talk about Texas is terrible."

Mr. Wamstad said the burgeoning influx of newcomers, not only from Mexico but Central America as well, is draining the state's finances.

The other problems in Texas "are all related to the hordes of Hispanic people who are coming into the country," he said, adding that he personally did not mind the immigrants' search for better lives.

"If they didn't come, if we didn't have this source, we might not have a work force," said the restaurateur. But, Mr. Wamstad added, the impact of those immigrants must be figured when judging Texas or any other state.

Jeff Johnson, president and CEO of Scope Industries Inc., a fast-growing McKinney oil producer, said he thought Mr. Bush had been "very good for Texas."

"You've got people who have never been here and are not familiar with Texas and they're saying how bad things are. I'm not aware of anything about how bad off we are here," Mr. Johnson said.

"The only thing that caused us to have any problems was that the [Clinton] administration didn't have any energy program. They drove the price of oil down to $8 a barrel, and we lost 100,000 jobs in the oil patch." he said.

With Mr. Bush in Austin, he said, "I think we've got a better sense of pride."

Others said the Gore campaign's harsh comments about Texas were unfair, but didn't think they would hurt Mr. Bush.

"In fact, I think it might help the governor in some other states," said Ruby Friedman, a Laredo housewife in her 60s. "There are fair people everywhere, and nobody likes somebody picking on another unfairly."

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