Some Deep South voters see Romney as slick, but say they’ll back him if he’s the GOP nominee

Mopvyzo USA 2012/03/08 22:51:49
Obama will still win
They'll back him
They would never back him
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By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, March 8

JACKSON, Miss. — Mitt Romney faces a tough sell in the Deep South. With Mississippi and Alabama primaries coming up next Tuesday, there’s concern that he’s too slick, not really a conservative. In a region where the evangelical vote is important, some are skeptical about his Mormon faith.

But if Romney wins the Republican nomination and it’s a November choice between him and Democratic President Barack Obama, the former Massachusetts governor may be just good enough for some Southerners.

“If push comes to shove and he gets the nomination, I’ll go in the voting booth like this and vote for him,” says Mississippi retiree David Wilke, holding his nose.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who represented Georgia for 20 years and now lives in Virginia, needs to win every state from South Carolina to Texas to get to the convention this summer, spokesman R.C. Hammond says.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s staff says he’ll be aggressive in states where Gingrich expects to perform well.

Gingrich scored an early primary victory in South Carolina and won this week in Georgia. Romney added a Virginia win this week — Gingrich and Santorum weren’t on the ballot — to his Jan. 31 win in Florida, which is culturally not entirely a Southern state, despite its geography. Santorum won Tennessee.

jan 31 win florida culturally southern geography santorum won tennessee

After Mississippi and Alabama next week, Louisiana votes March 24, North Carolina and Texas May 8, Arkansas May 22 and Texas May 29.

Santorum and Gingrich are invoking God and country as they campaign in Mississippi and Alabama, They’re winning applause by saying Obama has been a weak ally for Israel, a point that resonates with Christian conservatives.

Romney and Obama also expressed support for Israel this week in speeches to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, but Mary Dockery, director of a Christian youth group in central Mississippi, said she’s voting for Santorum because she believes he’s the most pro-Israel candidate.

“In God’s word, he tells us about the blessings of those people who support Israel,” Dockery said at a Santorum rally Wednesday night at the Mississippi Agriculture Museum in Jackson.

Santorum didn’t mention Gingrich during his appearance at the rally before about 400 people, but he drew parallels between Romney and Obama on the government’s role in health care. A boy at the rally hollered, “Obamneycare,” momentarily drawing attention.

“If we win in Mississippi, this will be a two-person race,” Santorum told the audience, which included several families with young children and some people wearing tea party shirts.

Roughly 200 people turned out Thursday morning to hear Gingrich at a Jackson hotel. He spoke at length about oil production but got the most applause when he said Obama has an arrogant belief in big government.

“Obamaism is a repudiation of the Declaration of Independence,” Gingrich declared.

Still, Romney is supported by top Republicans in many Southern states, including in Alabama, and he’ll speak in Birmingham on Friday. He’s been endorsed by former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, though Riley concedes Romney is an underdog in the state.

“Mitt Romney is the only candidate with the leadership and business experience to take our country through this difficult economic situation and bring us out stronger,” Riley said. “If there was ever time to have a job creator in the White House, it is now.”

In Louisiana, which holds its primary in two weeks, state Republican Executive Director Jason Dore said support for GOP candidates seems to be fluctuating to match the national battle over the nomination. He said Romney supporters are particularly active in the New Orleans area, while Ron Paul is getting much of the attention on college campuses.

“Gingrich and Santorum seem to both ebb and flow all the time,” Dore said.

In Mississippi, Romney has been endorsed by most statewide elected officials, including Sen. Thad Cochran and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. Both of the state’s Republican National Committee members, Henry Barbour and Jeanne Luckey, are supporting him.

“Folks in Mississippi are just like Republicans in other places. They care about jobs and the economy and who can beat Obama. That’s why I’m supporting Romney,” said Barbour, a prominent state lobbyist whose uncle, former Gov. Haley Barbour, is withholding an endorsement until Republicans choose a nominee.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal endorsed his friend, Texas Gov. Rick Perry. When Perry dropped out of the race, Jindal said he’d wait and endorse the eventual nominee.

Waiting to hear Gingrich speak Thursday in Jackson, Shane Brown, a 43-year-old nondenominational Christian minister, said he and his wife are not Romney fans but they’re resigned that he will probably win the nomination.

“He just does not seem like a real person,” Brown said. “We’re going to end up getting a candidate that the base doesn’t really love. You may go vote for him, but you’re not going to tell 10 people to go vote for him.”

He said that enthusiasm gap will hurt the Republicans. “I think that’s something the party establishment doesn’t quite understand.”

Cal Jillson, a Southern Methodist University political science professor, said Romney can claim success if he wins one-third of the primary vote in Mississippi and Alabama.

“Gingrich is there as a son of the South,” Jillson said. “And Santorum is there as a Yankee but as a Yankee social conservative.”

Wilke, 71, worked 31 years as an industrial equipment salesman and lives in a rural area outside Jackson. Wearing a shirt emblazoned with a large American flag and a baseball cap with “USA” in red, white and blue, he attended the Santorum rally Wednesday night in at the state agriculture museum.

He said he’s about 95 percent in support of Santorum and 100 percent in support of Gingrich. Wilke said he likes Santorum’s social conservatism, and he believes Gingrich would wipe the floor with Obama in a debate.

Romney? Don’t even get Wilke started. Too rich. Out of touch. Too slick, and too likely to say one thing to an audience up North and other things to audiences down South, Wilke said.

“I’ve got to tell you the truth: I don’t trust the man,” Wilke said. “He’s too wishy-washy.”

And Wilke said the Republican primary has been too negative: “I don’t want (Santorum) bashing the Mormon and I don’t want the Mormon bashing Newt.”

Bettye Fine Collins of Birmingham, Ala., a Republican National Committee member, said she’s supporting Santorum in the primary because “he has never flip-flopped on conservative values.” But she said she’ll back Romney if he wins the nomination. She said Santorum’s background, as the son of the coal miner, will appeal more to the common man and woman than Romney’s. She said Obama won in 2008 by targeting the common voter.

“We didn’t target the people who are out there struggling to make a living,” Collins said.

In Montgomery, Ala., Candy Sumrall, a 56-year-old transportation worker and declared “strong Newt supporter,” said she thinks many people will vote for Romney because the media have proclaimed him the front-runner. She believes Gingrich is the only person with a real chance to defeat Obama.

“All the things Romney flip-flopped on, you don’t change the way you think and what you believe because you think that’s what people want to hear,” Sumrall said. “Mitt Romney is Obama lite.”

Jillson said the South will remain solidly Republican in November.

“If Romney is the nominee, he will certainly win as much of the South as McCain did last time,” Jillson said. “The fight will be in the periphery. It will be Virginia and Florida. The rest of the South is pretty secure.”

Read More: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/some-deep-s...

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  • Maddog 2012/03/19 23:35:38
    They'll back him
    I'm not wild about Romney, but I'll vote for him if he's the GOP pick to run against Barack Obama. In fact, I'd vote for ANYONE who ran against Obama. I can't think of any worse scenario than 4 more years of his policies.
  • michael 2012/03/09 16:09:55
    They'll back him
    don't worry in the least -they will still vote for Mitt not Obama
  • KoAm 2012/03/09 08:23:22
    They'll back him
    Liberals, please stop trying to make this election about something else besides Obama's record. It should be ALL about Obama's record.

    Despite their reservations about Romney, they're smart enough to know that pretty much anybody would be better in the White House than who we have now.

    I have reservations about Romney, too. But if it's Romney vs. Obama, I'm voting for Romney.

    Any of the GOP candidates would easily be a better president than Obama. Just look at his record.
  • luvguins KoAm 2012/03/10 23:51:44
    Considering what he inherited, and a GOP party of NO obstructing and sabotaging any recovery attempt his record has been good. Waste your vote as he'll be re-elected.
  • nothingbutthetruth 2012/03/09 07:16:43
    Obama will still win
    To avoid the SLICKERS & SLACKERS
  • GOD 2012/03/09 05:41:14
    Obama will still win
    I think thats why they lost the civil war OK WE WILL SETTLE
  • Pat 2012/03/09 05:24:48
    Obama will still win
    The hard core republicans might fall in line and back him but the independents and especially the women will back Obama.
  • redhorse29 2012/03/09 03:23:09
    They'll back him
    If they say they will support Mitt if nominate then I guess they will. This has no bearing on the current nomination process. Or did you screw up your leading question?
  • Wyzard 2012/03/09 03:02:05
    They'll back him
    I'll vote for Micky Mouse before I vote for Odumbo!
  • Tree To... Wyzard 2012/03/09 19:13:40
    Tree Top TT
    Aren't Micky Mouse and Odumbo, one and the same?
  • Wyzard Tree To... 2012/03/09 19:18:15
  • C-ZAR™ of the PHÆT 2012/03/09 02:11:53
    They'll back him
    C-ZAR™ of the PHÆT
    of course they'll back him, he looks like them!
  • dawn 2012/03/09 01:02:00
    They'll back him
    Slick is better than Marxist--& besides, it worked GREAT for Slick Willie!
  • ed 2012/03/09 00:06:06
    They'll back him
    they might but I won't
  • dawn ed 2012/03/09 01:05:07
    Nam Vet--If we don't, we'll end up with Marxist Obama. I think Romney is lousey, but I don't think he actually hates America & Americans--which I know Obama does.
  • ed dawn 2012/03/09 01:35:21
    I like Ron Paul my self,to me romney is alot like obama.
  • dawn ed 2012/03/09 04:20:41
    Nam Vet--Yes, we'd vote Dr. Paul too, that would definately be our 1st choice--we can always hope for a miracle--oh how I wish!
  • tea for... dawn 2012/03/09 05:21:25
    tea for you
    of course you would vote for Dr. Paul racist stick together . deny that
  • rdmatheny tea for... 2012/03/09 05:41:08
  • tea for... rdmatheny 2012/03/09 05:43:07
    tea for you
    guess you don't have a comment
  • rdmatheny tea for... 2012/03/09 05:45:50
    The comment is in the video. Watch it. You may learn something instead of regurgiting false info.
  • tea for... rdmatheny 2012/03/09 05:52:14
    tea for you
    you need to learn how to post a video . Perhaps the computer is to tough for you . try these crayons
  • rdmatheny tea for... 2012/03/09 05:54:39
    The video is posting fine. It's visible if you open your eyes.
  • tea for... rdmatheny 2012/03/09 05:55:45
    tea for you
    there is no video . don't you get it . you don't know how to post a video LOL
  • rdmatheny tea for... 2012/03/09 05:58:20
    For the second time.
  • tea for... rdmatheny 2012/03/09 05:59:23
    tea for you
    congrats you did it . how did your sister feel when you woke her up?
  • rdmatheny tea for... 2012/03/09 06:12:50
    I could get smart with you but I won't. Just look at my participation level here on SH and then look at my posting history and you will see I have posted hundreds of videos. Obviously there was a glitch the first time and it was showing on my end.
  • David H... rdmatheny 2012/03/09 06:25:59
    David Hussey
    It worked fine for me
  • rdmatheny David H... 2012/03/09 06:29:28
    Thank you. I had a feeling I was dealing with a three year old.
  • David H... rdmatheny 2012/03/09 06:35:23
    David Hussey
    They are pretty easy to spot, and nothing brings them out the way Ron Paul does. I commend you for not being drawn into the muck with him, I wish I could avoid doing so more often than I do
  • tea for... David H... 2012/03/09 12:45:43
    tea for you
    Racist are easy to spot . they defend Ron Paul
  • tea for... rdmatheny 2012/03/09 06:00:58
  • David H... tea for... 2012/03/09 22:59:43
    David Hussey
    Why do you lie?
  • dawn tea for... 2012/03/09 06:20:19
    tea--The racist card--blah blah blah........................ho hum, yawn, zzzzzzzzzzz...
  • ed dawn 2012/03/09 09:40:30
    you 've got that right and that's what it'll take.
  • NYCbrit 2012/03/09 00:05:26
    They'll back him
    This country is terribly partisan... we are being divided, hope we don't then get conquered.
  • David H... NYCbrit 2012/03/09 21:04:02
    David Hussey
    Its already been conquered. By an ruling aristocracy, without a shot being fired the old world bankers have reclaimed what they see as their rightful possession
  • luvguins 2012/03/08 23:56:16
    They'll back him
    The deeper South you go the more ignorant rednecks you find along with radical evangelicals. They will hold their noses and vote for the clueless Ken doll. They haven't finished fighting the civil war or the civil rights bill in their heads.
  • ed luvguins 2012/03/09 01:43:15
  • luvguins ed 2012/03/09 01:59:23

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