Buying & Selling W in Crawford
We couldn't drive all the way to Texas without stopping in Crawford, Bush's adopted hometown, population 705. Crawford is also home to one stop light, one cafe and a few gift shops full of Bush t-shirts, talking dolls, Beanie Babies, life-sized cutouts and large wall hangings. The town's economy clearly grew exponentially after Bush bought his 1,600-acre ranch in 1999. Today the town's Web site proudly calls Bush its "favorite son." Joe Cuff, owner of Main Street Place Crawford, proudly told me he and his wife were in charge of making the 2005 Presidential Inauguration Cachets for the "Western White House."
How has life in Crawford changed for you since Bush bought the ranch?
My store wasn't here before. We're seeing people from just about every continent. It's fun meeting different people and hearing different stories.
Do many Democrats stop by?
Yeah, some will come in here and make comments. Then they'll buy things for their friends.
What happens when Bush comes to town?
We have protesters for and against just about everything. Dignitaries come in here to shop. It gets real busy.
What will happen to Crawford in 2008?
I don't think it'll change if the Bush library goes to Baylor. Regardless, we'll always have tourists and we'll always be here.
How has the town changed politically since Bush bought the ranch?
Well, there were a lot of Democrats here. A lot of them have switched over to being a Republican. We only have 705 people here so it's usually pretty quiet.
What do you do for fun?
We have a park, football and baseball games, festivals, parades, BBQ cookoffs and stuff like that.
Are you a fan of Bush?
Has your admiration for him increased over the years?
What do you like about him?
Well, he tells it like it is. When he says something, that's what he'll get done. A lot of people would run not knowing how to handle all the problems he had after 9/11. He's done a good job there.
What other policies do you like other than the ones related to 9/11 and terrorism?
He's trying to do something with social security. He's working real hard.
You're in favor of his social security plan?
I'm in favor of it. He'll get it done.
Do you think social security is in trouble?
No, I don't so. It'll be a long drawn out thing.
What do you want him to work on over the next four years?
Gas. We need some kind of regulation on it. It's way too high.
We later stopped in the Coffee Station for dinner and were surrounded by Bush posters, photos and life-sized cutouts. Jeiro and Amira Ferreira, tourists from New Orleans, sat next to us and took several photos of a Bush photo collage. They are from Columbia and have lived in the states for 32 years.
What brings you to Crawford?
AF: Well, actually, just to see his ranch. We spent a few bucks at the souvenir shop.
What did you buy?
AF: A few t-shirts. They all say George Bush, of course.
And you were taking pictures of his pictures in the restaurant?
JF: That's right, because I want to have all the mementos of a very simple person mingling with other simple guys. I think that's a true person coming out. I don't think he's doing that for politics. He's doing that with local people that live around his place.
Is that why you like him? Because he's a simple guy?
JF: I like him because he's a simple guy who's becoming a great human being. He's very decisive. He supports his beliefs and he basically has a mission that he believes in. His mission is to protect the United States of America. He's protecting me, my family and everything that comes after that.
What about you?
AF: I have a son-in-law in the military. Even though he has been in Afghanistan putting his life on the line, we still support President Bush. He just came back from Afghanistan.
How long was he there?
AF: Three months.
You've been in the states for 32 years...and you've always voted Republican?
AF: Actually, yes.
What does that mean to you?
AF: The country has adopted us. This is the place where we feel secure and safe.
JF: Republican means to me: values. Values do not change. Values remain the same forever. The Republicans have that type of value. I'll give you a very controversial example. Bush is giving opportunities to people that represent minorities, like the blacks and Hispanics. He's not talking about it. He's doing it.
Can you give me an example?
JF: He's bringing to his cabinet people that are representing the people of the United States. For many years, the former Secretary of State couldn't use the same bathroom as you and me. Last year, he was using the same bathroom as President Bush.
Can't you say the same thing about Democrats? They've brought minorities into their cabinets.
JF: But they talk about it and Republicans don't. They just do it. There is a difference in politics. The Democrats do it because it's good politics. Bush does it because he believes it it. There's a difference.
Do you always vote Republican? Would you consider voting for a Democrat?
JF: I don't think you vote for the person, you vote for a platform. If the Democrats come up with a good platform, I will support them.
Where do you get your news?
JF: Newspapers and Internet. I don't believe in the traditional channels. They've lost credibility. After Walter Cronkite, I don't think there are any anchors that are practicing true journalism. I question everything I read and hear because I don't think journalists present the facts. They give you the conclusion instead of giving you the news.
Are you in favor of the war?
Now that we know there were no weapons of mass destruction, do you believe the reasons for going to war were justified?
JF: Oh yeah, the weapons haven't been found because they were moved someplace else.
Have you heard about the Duelfer report? It found there were no weapons.
JF: Oh, yeah, but I haven't read it in its totality. The fact that there is a report is one thing. The fact that they didn't find the weapons is something else. I still believe those weapons were there. Those weapons were used against the people of Iraq. Saddam killed many of them.
And we were supporting him when that happened.
JF: Yeah, but it doesn't make any difference.
JF: It doesn't make any difference regarding the weapons of mass destruction. He had them and he used them.
Do you feel safer because of the war?
What are you hoping Bush accomplishes over the next four years?
JF: To win peace through what he is doing. History tells you to make peace you have to fight wars.