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Texas dos and don'ts

February 20, 2008 |  2:58 am

As the eyes of the political world turn (in part) to Texas, the Dallas Morning News provides some helpful hints to the presidential candidates trying to win votes in the state's March 4 primary. And, although Gerald Ford's passing a little more than a year ago sparked an appreciation that in many ways he proved the right man at the right place when he ascended to the presidency, it is also true that his malaprops live on.

"Take that extra helping of Tex-Mex," the Morning news recommends in its section on sampling the regional cuisine. "Appreciate how that brisket was prepared."

And then there's this: "Don't, as Gerald Ford did, eat the tamale without first removing it from its shuck."

Sage advice, especially since after commiting his gaffe during the 1976 primary season, Ford lost Texas -- and its then-26 electoral votes -- in the general election to Jimmy Carter by a measly 3 percentage points.

The Morning News piece also notes that ...

"acknowledging landmarks such as the Alamo ... are surefire ways to get attention."

Sure enough, Mike Huckabee's schedule for Thursday calls for him to visit the famed mission in San Antonio (no doubt spurring comparisons aplenty to his slowly expiring quest for the Republican nomination and the doomed Alamo defenders).

While the focus of late has been on rhetorical plagiarism, the Morning News offers a caution about repetition -- as in, resist using the same ol' colloquialisms. The paper -- perhaps prompted by Hillary Clinton, who used the referenced line in kicking off her Texas campaign a week ago in El Paso, writes: "Phrases in your stump speeches like 'All hat and no cattle' can be endearing, but going to that well too many times will remind people that you are an outsider."

You can peruse the rest of the counsel for the candidates here.

-- Don Frederick