Bush Gores Al
There was no reason to wait for the 10 o'clock news. It was preordained. The Washington Post called the race over at 6:30pm, a full half-hour before the George W. Bush campaign even began assembling at the Jewish Community Center in North Austin. A few minutes after 7pm, the first returns came back showing that Bush had won about 90% of the early votes in Texas. And a few minutes later, early results came in showing Bush getting from 85 to 90% of the votes cast on Tuesday.
Results from the other primary states -- Oklahoma, Louisiana, Tennessee, Florida, and Mississippi -- showed similar results, with Bush garnering at least 74% of the votes in each state. So, at about 9pm, Bush knew he had clinched the Republican nomination for president. And El Paso Mayor Carlos Ramirez, a Democrat, was sent out to the center's packed gymnasium to introduce him. Bush "won't just do things right," said Ramirez, "he'll do the right thing."
Bush then took the stage and immediately began attacking Al Gore as a person who will "say anything and try to win at any cost." Bush said that he has brought "dignity and honor to the office of governor of Texas and I will restore dignity and honor to the office of president of the United States." In the race against Gore, Bush said, "education will be a defining issue." He said that he will "earn the public trust by reforming and renewing America's public schools." That will include a special focus on literacy and on setting local standards for schools and then requiring them to meet them. Bush also repeated a line that he used on Super Tuesday, saying that he will challenge the status quo, and, "Al Gore is the status quo."
While Bush says he'll focus on education, it's clear the real focus is the attacks on Gore, which began in earnest on Super Tuesday and are certain to escalate. "Get ready to see lots of Buddhist temples," said one campaign staffer.