Race for president heats up in Texas

February 18, 2008 5:51:00 AM PST
The target is now Texas for the presidential campaigns and voters in Houston are getting ready.Some candidates have appearances here tomorrow and soon they'll be crisscrossing the state. With the Texas primary just 16 days away, this week some of the candidates will be making a stop in Houston as Texas moves to center stage.

At a Heights bar tonight, it was clear to some Houstonians that they have already picked their candidate.

"We have an opportunity to elect, really the right blend of experience and strength to be ready to be president on day one," said Clinton supporter Nata Koerber.

Clinton supporters rallied beside America Ferrera, star of ABC's "Ugly Betty".

"I'm really ready for a candidate who walks the walk and who has a record of getting things done and actually changing people's lives," said Ferrera.

In downtown Houston, there were long lines of Obama supporters waiting to volunteer for the campaign

"I'm hoping to help him become the next president of the United States and the reason being is that I believe that we need to change the government," said Obama supporter Toni Guillory. "I believe that he can do it."

"A big part of that is who the candidate is," said Obama supporter Trey Wirz. "It's been a long time since we've had a candidate that sparked that kind of interest from so many diverse groups of people."

Both Democratic candidates will battle for undecided voters. On Tuesday, Obama will speak at the Toyota Center. Bill Clinton will appear at a dsowntown fundraiser for Hillary.

"Particularly on the Democratic side, you have two celebrity more key candidates, Obama and of course Hillary Clinton," said KTRK-TV Political Analyst Dr. Richard Murray. "So they are really going to drive voters to the polls when we start early voting, which is coming up on Tuesday."

On the Republican side, John McCain is the clear front-runner, but he would like Texas help him seal the deal. Monday morning Former President George H. Bush will endorse the Arizona senator.

Republican Ron Paul is also remaining in the race, but he's scaled back his campaign a bit. The Texas congressman has several rallies planned across Texas, including one tomorrow in Denton.

Dr. Murray says while Mike Huckabee has his eyes on 2012, he'll continue this campaign run to get his name and message out.

"John McCain has a healthy lead but if the turnout is very low out in the Republican primary, Mike Huckabee is popular with a lot of social conservatives, it might win a lot of delegates here," said Dr. Murray.

Clinton and Obama will square off in a Democratic debate on Thursday in Austin.