President Jimmy Carter's personal secretary is in the middle of four days of campaigning in Texas, and she loves it.
Susan Clough was at the side of U.S. Rep. Bob Krueger when he made his formal announcement yesterday for the Democratic nomination to the July 4th rally in a field across from his home here.
Today the 32-year-old divorcee is flying with the bachelor congressman to press conferences in Austin, Dallas and Houston, after which she'll return to her duties in the White House.
Clough said she discussed her trip with President before she flew to Texas Friday.
"I'm not here as a member of the administration, but as a friend of Bob's," she explained. "The President does not interfere in our personal lives."
The President, she made it clear, also is not interfering in what could be a hot battle for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Sen. John Tower.
During her Texas visit Clough has adroitly sidestepped becoming involved in the differences between Krueger, a leading proponent of gas deregulation, and the President, on energy matters.
She pointed out that Krueger has been supporting the President on some controversial matters like election-day registration. "The President," she said, "likes Bob very much."
Clough watched yesterday at noon as the congressman tried out his announcement speech on 200 volunteer workers gathered under towering pecan trees on the lawn behind his house.
"It's a good speech," said Clough, who has had considerable experience in speechwriting. She added, "Bob is a good man and he believes in what he is doing."
How serious, she was asked, was their friendship? After all, she had flown halfway across the country to spend four days with the 42-year-old congressman on the campaign trail.
"He's got a lot of things to do with his life right now other than our thinking about how serious we are," she replied. "But there aren't that many people I've met - much less bachelors - of whom I can say, "I'm proud I know them.'"
As for where it is all leading, she said, "All things come, if they should, with time, and when the time is right, I put myself in God's hands."
MNeanwhile, this weekend she sampled what she called "the tremendous diversity" of Texas.
In El Paso Friday Krueger escorted her to a party given by Democratic National Committeewoman Alicia Chacon.
She danced to mariachi music and enjoyed the tamales. "They were peeled," she said with a laugh in reference to a tamale shuck mistakenly downed during the campaign by President Gerald Ford.
Sunday at the Krueger home here she breakfasted on his 70-year-old mother's specialities: pecan waffles, fresh peaches and special locallysmoked bacon.
Then they flew to services at a 170-year-old Lutheran Church in the hill country, a huge July 4th celebration in Del Rio and a dance on the runway of a one-time air base in Hondo.
Although she enjoyed Mexican food at Memo's, a celebrated border restaurant in Del Rio, she felt a twinge of rivalry.
"I take great pride in my own enchiladas," said Clough, who learned the art in California. "I wouldn't say anything against that man's cooking, but he might like my enchiladas, too."
At the air-base dance, the congressman was whilred off for a few waltz steps by a 68-year-old grandmother. He confessed he didn't get to dance with Clough.
"My dance style is courtly and old-fashioned," reported Krueger. "But we really haven't had a chance to try it.
"Krueger and Clough were introduced by U.S.Rep. Don Bonker (D-Wash.) and his wife. They have been dating two or three times a week since Feb.4.
She often works at the White House until late evening.A typical date may being this way, she reported:
"Bob calls and says, "Gee, Susan, it's about 9.30 and if you're not doing anything...'"
As for this weekend's date, Clough was delighted.
"Out here," she observed, "is where the votes come from, and I've had a chance to see that people are not apathetic. They are intelligent; they have their own views, but their minds aren't closed."