NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Governor Rick Perry eagerly greeted awaiting Stephen F Austin State University supporters. They're the same people he's hoping will vote for him in the gubernatorial primary. "Ladies, it's good to be here," the governor said with a smile.
Before a packed room the governor was praised for his loyalty to SFA by supporting nursing, early childhood education and research. "I would like to remind you that he's been a special governor to us," SFA President Dr. Baker Patillo said.
The governor mentioned the same accomplishments in his own address. If there's a time to remind East Texans what he's done for SFA, it's now. "We're working on several fronts to improve the quality of education in our state and we keep launching these high quality graduates into our workforce," Perry said.
The experienced politician knows it takes more than signing a bill ensuring the university name to get votes in the Republican primary. He was here for the ceremonial signing of a bill ushered through by Senator Robert Nichols and Representative Wayne Christian. It prevents a name change of any university bearing the name of a historic Texas figure.
Even with this junket, Perry must be careful not to be placed on the defensive by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. She's even criticizing the ceremonial signings as a waste of taxpayer dollars. "I think Texans will clearly make the difference between a person who's been in Washington D.C. for 16 years," Perry said in response to reporter's questions. "She'll (Hutchison) have to explain to people why she wants to come back and be the governor of the State of Texas. And criticizing me is not the way to do it."
The governor describes his decisions as, "running business, the Texas way". Perry plans to return to Nacogdoches in January for the opening of the university's new nursing building.