Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bush Country Fades Into the Landscape
By Joel Achenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 17, 2008; Page A12

CRAWFORD, Tex. -- From certain angles, this town looks as if it already got hit by a recession. The gift shop next to the police station closed about a year ago, and there's a "Building For Sale" banner flapping from the cornice. Two other gift shops have long since gone out of business. Another one is open now only on weekends. Two more are still going, but they sometimes close early in the day during the lonely winter months. The Bush boom is over. "It didn't last. You can only sell so many souvenirs," says the former mayor, Robert Campbell.

When the then-governor of Texas bought a ranch outside of town in 1999, Crawford suddenly became more than just a crossroads west of Waco. When George W. Bush became president of the United States, the village sprouted signs declaring itself the Western White House. Property values spiked. World leaders made regular appearances. A new bank branch opened on the main intersection.

But Bush is now a lame duck, and this little piece of Bush Country is in a transitional moment just as Texas is about to play a pivotal role in the presidential race....


You don't see any yard signs around here -- not one -- with a presidential candidate's name. You might, though, see a campaign sign for someone like "Doc" Anderson, who's running for state representative, or Stan Hickey, who's running for Precinct 5 constable.

But the politics of Crawford are more complicated than you might think.

"This was a Democratic town before Bush came here," says Joe Cuff, who owns a general store and gift shop.

Several other locals mentioned the same thing -- it's almost Crawford's dirty little secret. The town had a Democratic mayor well into Bush's tenure. But the town voted overwhelmingly for Bush in both 2000 and 2004. "All the people like him. You know. Just the person, you know. I think it was better before 9/11. After 9/11, things kind of went to hell," Cuff says....[Open in new window]


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