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GOP wants options, SC primary crucial

Courtesy of MCT

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While former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney beat Rep. Ron Paul by about 17 points in the New Hampshire primary, some Republicans continue to search for the “non-Romney” candidate.

In Iowa, Rick Santorum gave Romney a run for his money, and in New Hampshire Paul finished close behind. Both candidates, and others, are pushing to challenge Romney for the Republican nomination.

Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative Republican activist, said many Republicans are looking for a more traditional option to compete against Romney.

“What’s pretty obvious is that the Republican establishment and the media are for (Romney), but the grassroots really don’t like to be bossed around neither by the media or by the Republican establishments who think they run things,” Schlafly said. “I think (the) grassroots may rise up and have a different candidate when they can figure out who they want to concentrate on.”

Romney now has two primaries won, but Schlafly expects the next primary, in South Carolina, to be telling of who the final candidate is.

“(South Carolina) is the biggie,” Schlafly said.

Nick Messenger, president of Undergraduate Student Government, said Santorum’s lack of success in New Hampsire was not a surprise to him.

“(I didn’t) expect Rick Santorum to do very well (in New Hampshire), because most of his campaign strategy in Iowa hinged on him doing a traditional campaign of stumping,” Messenger said. “He doesn’t play in as well with fiscal conservatives.”

Messenger agreed with Schlafly that South Carolina could be indicative of a final result. Messenger said he expects a resurgence of Santorum or Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

While South Carolina might bring a turn of events, in his victory speech Tuesday night, Romney was presumptuous of his name on the November ticket against President Barack Obama.

“The president has run out of ideas; now he’s running out of excuses,” Romney said.

Romney asked that voters in South Carolina join New Hampshire “to make 2012 the year (Obama) runs out of time.”

Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said the results in New Hampshire hurt Romney.

“While Mitt Romney may have won (Tuesday) night’s contest in New Hampshire, in a state where he has campaigned for the last five years, where he once led by nearly 30 points and where he owns a home, candidate Romney comes out of the New Hampshire campaign wounded because that campaign exposed many aspects of his record,” Redfern said.

Redfern said Romney’s campaign has been driven by his experience in the corporate world as CEO of Bain Capital and his ability to create jobs, but inquiries by voters and the other Republican candidates have put question into Romney’s morals.

Messenger said there is a divide in the Republican Party between the fiscal conservatives and the ideological conservatives. He said most of the candidates are just making ridiculous comments and competing for attention in the debates.

“There is this divide, and it’s very hard to deal with,” Messenger said. “It’s happened with the Democrats too very many times, and when it happens, traditionally the party that has that ideological divide or split of two candidates doesn’t do very well in the election.”

Messenger added that this is an exciting moment in politics. He said it will be interesting to watch Romney try to present himself as an inherently progressive Republican yet still try to get the conservative vote.

“I encourage students to pay attention to the primaries and the presidential election,” Messenger said. “Really pay attention and vote for our congressmen and senators if we want to get out of this gridlock.”

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