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Bush vacation puts spotlight on tiny Crawford

By Kelly Wallace
CNN Washington Bureau

CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) -- President Bush's vacation home is seemingly a world away from Washington.

Crawford -- a one-stoplight town of about 700 -- is now the summer White House. Bush is spending a month's vacation at his ranch here, bringing with him a retinue of aides, Secret Service agents and the White House press corps.

"You don't have many strangers move into Crawford," native Lloyd Brunson said. "It's hot, it's dry and full of snakes."

Bush's sojourn to his ranch has made the town, about 120 miles south of Dallas, the focus of American politics for much of the next month, and its people are adjusting to a newfound fame.

"I can't see that there's been much change other than just a lot more excitement because of the media coverage -- and a lot of tourists coming in wanting to see where the president lives," said Tom Kirk, who lives nearby.

Temperatures top 100 in August. Many make a living from the land. But there are also entrepreneurs like Gary Bowdoin, who owns a tent business, sits on the school board and coaches the high school track team.

CNN's Kelly Wallace on how residents of Crawford, Texas, feel about the media attention (August 6)

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CNN's John King on whether President Bush's leadership style has what it takes to advance his agenda (August 6)

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"They are good people," Bowdoin said. "I mean, you have a flat tire, someone is there to stop and help you. They are honest people. They are gonna tell you what they think."

With all the media attention, there is another concern: Folks here say there is a misconception about their town -- "That we are all backwards, that we don't have a clue what is going on," Crawford resident Teresa Bowdoin said.

Bush is on what the White House calls a "working vacation," meeting with senior staff between time spent jogging and fishing on the 1,600-acre ranch. He planned a side trip to nearby Waco on Tuesday to visit Habitat for Humanity volunteers.

Not everyone is happy the president is here. But the only complaints residents made to CNN were about the traveling press corps.

Reporters have descended on Crawford's elementary school for the month.

"Sometimes the kids complain because their gym is being taken, but it's fun, you know," Laura Dunn said. "The kids enjoy the activity."

• The White House

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