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Texas primary could decide Democratic candidate

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Samantha Hayes, Austin, Texas

March 4, 2008

We won't know until sometime tonight (hopefully) whether Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton won the big prizes of what may prove to be the crucial round of primaries. Yesterday, CNN's Poll of Polls showed a very close race between the two Democrats in Ohio and Texas, the states with the most delegates at stake. So without any real indication of where or how the vote is going to break, I found some tough-talking Texas women to make some predictions for me last night.      

I spotted them at a restaurant in Austin. They had just come from Hillary Clinton's town hall and were wearing Clinton buttons and stickers. It had been the end of a very politically active day for these women, starting with an early event in Dallas with Gloria Steinem, but they looked like they had the energy to do it all over again.

While they waited for their table, I learned that they were from Austin and had known each other a very long time. They were all impeccably dressed and, like you might expect from a group of Southern Belles, their hair looked great, too. They laughed with each other in a way that reflected years of shared experiences. One of them, named Betsy Martin, smiled and said, "We finish each others sentences."

It turns out they are also on the same page, politically, and are working hard to energize and encourage voters, particularly women, to support Hillary Clinton.

Barbara, who was sitting to my right wearing a shirt with "Hillary" spelled across it in teal letters, said that this may be one of the only opportunities to see a woman in the Oval Office. "Barack Obama will have his turn."

One of the ladies, Cathy Bonner, suggested I take a look at standupforhillary.com, a blog designed for Texas voters with a distinctive feminine touch. Bonner told me she has a background in marketing and helped produce a video on the web page called, "This One's for Ann." Ann Richards was elected governor of Texas and became a national political celebrity.

After dinner, I checked out the blog and the video, which showed several pictures of Clinton and Richards together. In one clip, Clinton describes a lighter moment with the famous Texan. "I got a lot of advice from Ann about my hair," says Clinton.

Looking for a little more background on Richards, I found an editorial by then-columnist Anna Quindlen who wrote about Richards after she spoke at the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. "She made them listen and she made them listen good," wrote Quindlen, "with precisely those qualities we try to iron out of female politicians in particular:  a sense of fun, irreverence and general cussedness."

The ladies at this table were certainly fun. They were also feisty and smart. They told me almost right away they thought the vote today would break for Hillary Clinton.

Before saying our goodbyes, I asked them why they thought that was. Almost in unison they said, "women's intuition."

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