A day on the campaign trail with Rick Perry

HOUSTON Even though he's leading in the polls, he's still putting in long days. Eyewitness News followed him from Bryan to Beaumont to Conroe to Grapeland and then finally Dallas.

Perry knows his routine. This is his 20th year of campaigning across a very large state.

"America's best days are in front of it, and I know Texas' best days are still in front of it," Perry told a crowd.

This year, the 10-year incumbent cast himself as an outsider fighting Washington, standing up for Texans.

"I don't think he's a career politician," supporter Barbara Liming said. "I think he's a concerned Texan."

By 10am, Perry had already been up for hours. At his first event, he surprised a Bryan principal with a $25,000 check from a National Education Foundation but wouldn't leave without working the crowd, regardless of whether they were old enough to vote or too young to tie their own shoes.

From there, he headed back on the plane to Beaumont and into an adoring, excited crowd. But it also was the only time we saw a sign of his opponent, Democratic Bill White. The two loud protestors rattled Perry just a bit, but it was a brief distraction, not a long diversion.

Perry did not stray from his message for long, and it was forgotten an hour later in Conroe, where a standing-room only event was so overcrowded, the sheriff almost kept Perry's staff from attending.

Leading in the polls, he seems comfortable.

"I am a pretty faithful guy that this will turn out the way it's supposed to turn out," he said. "At the end of the day, I'm pretty comfortable the good Lord is in control and we'll be fine."

And at an hour when most Texans were heading home, Perry was off to his fifth event of the day. He spoke to thousands of African American women at Bishop TD Jakes Potter's House Church in Dallas, mindful he has just 12 days left.

"God bless you, and through you, may God continue to bless the great state of Texas," Perry told the crowd.

Perry rarely mentions White in his speeches, but he did encourage his supporters to contact friends in other states to garner support for like-minded candidates. He admits the national sway is helping him in this election season, but he has no aspiration to run for president.

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