Gubernatorial candidates push for votes

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Perry, White campaigns visit partisan strongholds to encourage supporters

Gov. Rick Perry and Democratic challenger Bill White barnstormed around Texas on the last weekend before Election Day in a last push to get voters to the polls.

Perry spent Friday in West Texas and Sunday in the traditionally Republican Houston suburbs drumming up votes, while White traveled to traditionally Democratic areas of the state, including Austin, in an effort to get more Democrats to the polls on Tuesday.

“The excitement is palpable in this state,” White told a group of campaign volunteers working a Democratic phone bank in Austin on Friday. “We need a real leader and not a yell leader.”

White then went on to list many of his campaign’s standard attacks against Perry, such as how Perry appointees directed investment dollars from the Teacher Retirement System to investment funds run by Perry donors against the advice of TRS staff, who thought the investments were unsound.

He also spent time attacking the new poll by Texas newspapers that shows Perry leading by 12 percent.

“The assumptions used in the poll, compared to reality of who’s actually showed up to vote are way off,” White said.

He said the poll results had been skewed because younger voters and Hispanic voters in the Rio Grande Valley, a Democratic stronghold, use cell phones instead of landlines, which are the numbers pollsters predominately call.

White just hasn’t been able to win over enough Republicans to carry Texas during a year when the GOP is favored, said Tom Jensen, who helped conduct the poll by Public Policy Polling released Friday that showed White down 9 percent.

“For White, it may be a classic case of the right candidate running in the wrong cycle,” he said.

Perry, meanwhile, stumped in his home turf of West Texas, confidently urging supporters to drive up turnout so they can send a message to the target of his populist ire: President Barack Obama and the Democrats in Washington.

At Roasters Coffee & Tea Company in Amarillo, Perry never mentioned his opponent or that he even had one.

“Are we going keep Texas on the track its been on?” Perry said. “Or are we going make the decision to go more in the Obama direction?”

Predictable boos and shouts of “No!” rose from the crowd.

— Additional reporting by The Associated Press.