Eyes on the Lone Star State

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LONGVIEW, Texas: With Bob Dole solidly lagging in the polls, President Clinton is thinking the unthinkable: winning Texas in this presidential election. Clinton launched a three-city campaign Friday in an attempt to win a state than has been solidly Republican for the past two decades. One of the election's biggest prizes, with 32 electoral votes, Texas has been carried by every President in the 20th century except Clinton. "Four years ago, I had a pretty hard time here; I ran in Texas against two guys who were from Texas," said Clinton referring to George Bush and Ross Perot in explaining his 1992 loss in the Lone Star state. But under different circumstances this year, and what appears to be an unbeatable campaigning style, President Clinton sounds decidedly more optimistic: "We can win in the state of Texas because we've done a good job for the people of Texas." Clinton-Gore campaign press secretary Joe Lockhart explained the window of opportunity even further. Referring to Bob Dole, Lockhart said: "When you're six weeks out and tied in the polls and your opponent seems to be struggling daily for a message, a state like Texas is daily in play." The latest Texas Poll, taken in mid-September, showed Dole and Clinton head-to-head with 41 percent of the vote with Perot trailing at 8 percent. "Clinton is doing so well in so many places that he can afford to concentrate on states that seemed unreachable before," says TIME's Jef McAllister. "If he wins Texas it will be a blow out for him. And if loses he still wins by forcing Dole to spend money and time in a state that Republicans thought was secured." -->