Galleria Gala shows hope for man from Hope

Texas GOP divides over abortion issue

by Jim Parsons

Daily Cougar Senior Staff

At Friday night's Texas Presidential Gala fundraising event, in the J.W. Marriott Hotel at the Galleria, party spirit ran high and comparisons flowed like water.

Bill White, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, compared President Bill Clinton to Houston Mayor Bob Lanier, Lanier compared Clinton to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Former Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe compared Clinton to Harry S. Truman.

"This is perhaps the most important election year since 1932," Don Fowler, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said, indicating that re-electing Clinton is comparable to Roosevelt bringing America out of Hoover's early Depression days.

Briscoe said that Clinton is like Truman in that, if he carries Texas, he may win nationally -- like Truman did in 1948.

Clinton's foray into Texas, where recent polls show him neck-and-neck with Republican frontrunner Bob Dole, indicates hopes that he will enjoy a Truman-esque victory this year.

"This is a profoundly important election," said Clinton, addressing a crowd of 1,000."If anybody thinks I intend to write off Texas, they need to think again."

To that end, the crux of the president's speech was to ask voters to think of the future when going to the polls in November. "You don't have to guess in this election. You know what I'm going to do, you know what (Republicans) are going to do."

The Democrats, according to Clinton, have created new jobs, and lowered inflation, unemployment, and crime rates while bringing opportunity and union to the United States.

But, he noted, the fight is far from over: "We have not solved problems; we have made them better." For example, although the crime rate is down for the fourth consecutive year, Clinton said it would not be low enough until crime is "the exception, not the rule."

Taking center stage in most of the speeches was the topic of opportunity. "Those of us here tonight have the ability to offer children the greatest opportunity in the history of mankind" by voting for Clinton, said Lanier, whose anti-crime stance was compared to the president's.

Clinton's whirlwind visit to Houston raised $2 million for the Democratic Party during three fund-raising events: the $1,000-per-guest gala, a private $10,000-per-guest dinner, and the $100-per-person Saxophone Club, an event geared toward young Democrats.

All this came as Texas Republicans gathered in San Antonio to elect delegates to the GOP's national convention in August and demonstrated the division that some analysts predict will cost Dole the presidency in November.

The Dallas-based anti-abortion Texans United For Life tried to exclude U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison from the national convention because of her belief that abortion should be legal in limited cases.

"This is really ridiculous," said Hutchison, who called the group's efforts a "kamikaze mission."

Dole, Sen. Phil Gramm, and Gov. George W. Bush united behind Hutchison, who was selected Saturday to attend the national convention.

Hutchison, addressing the conventioneers in San Antonio, said, "(Republicans) are going to leave these halls as a united front, putting good, decent people in office."

Meanwhile, back at Clinton's fund-raiser in Houston, entertainer Lyle Lovett performed his song, "You're Not From Texas, But Texas Wants You Anyway."

However, the truth of that statement -- a truth which Clinton supporters seem to be hoping for -- can only be told, after much more speechmaking and campaigning from both parties, by November's election returns.

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