We had our bi- monthly tea party meeting here last night and as is our usual pattern, our group leaders had gathered together clips of interviews,debates,shots of newspaper articles, and if possible transcripts of radio interviews to be put onto a power point presentation on the big screen so we all can see it. We usually do this for each of the serious candidates. This time we focused on Romney,Perry, and Cain- all the rest are inconsequential and should not be in the race at all.
A little background first, We are currently stationed at a base in Georgia, even though we are registered voters in Texas via absentee because we are a military family. We have a tea party of around 550 people, (in a neighboring city)although our numbers swell when there are trips, or events to attend. Our make up is mostly seniors, with about 50 percent, 30-40 year olds come in around another 40 percent and under thirty comes in at 10 percent. Because we are near a military base, we have all nationalities, all races represented.
After we show our little presentation, we open up the floor for feedback to see where our group stands at this moment, what we have issues with and would like to see addressed,the negatives, the positives,etc.,etc. This group was decidedly pro-Perry last time, with a few Romney supporters and a few Cain supporters, the month before(Aug) it had been pro-Bachmann. After showing clips of the last debate, we showed the interviews with each candidate.
Perry got a negative reaction at first for immigration (heartless comment), but then his subsequent interview explaining his stance in detail and his apology for the heartless comment righted that sinking ship PDQ. The consensus came to the conclusion he is not good at debates- the same as last time.
Cain got positive feedback from the debate, but then shot himself in the foot with the interview on CNN saying he would not support Perry if he were the nominee. Then we showed the tape with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday and the reaction was VISCERAL, downright fury. Living in the south and the same state Cain is from, we are all so damn tired of the race card being played, especially in the case of a story that originated from the WAPO and had only vague details,anonymous sources and regarded a rock from decades ago. Cain jumped on it- and completely undid all the good he has done in the past few weeks. "Cambridge police acted stupidly" was said by quite a few people.
Romney has never done well with our group, and this time was no exception, debate wise, few people knew he had written a hard copy book let alone that he had edited out language referring to Romneycare in his paperback when he decided to run and Obamacare was so unpopular. That was another strike, then came the ad from Romney saying Perry was for illegal immigration, which having just seen Perry explain his stance on in state tuition moments before, was demonstrably false and the reaction to Romney's ad were scoffs of disgust. At my advice,one of our leaders put together a flow chart of Romney's many stances on major issues,each with dates for comparison -she did it in the starburst fashion with the issue in a circle in the center and the various positions coming out like rays so you could really see the multiple changes. It was a sight to see- somebody took a copy so he could show it at his job.
So what was the final consensus? No body's mind was changed, the Romney voters (all 4 percent of them) are still going with Romney, the majority who are planning to vote for Perry are still planning to vote for Perry and the biggest winner of the debate,Cain, dinged himself by saying he would not support Perry as a nominee. People were willing to overlook that, but after showing the Wallace interview, he just devastated himself , people wondered out loud, if like Obama, they disagreed with Cain on an issue would he then play the race card on them too? Also having been for TARP and then hesitant on investigating the FED, how sure could they be that he wasn't after all, willing to spend our money like a big government Republican? The race card was a deal breaker, all new polling coming out now doubtfully was taken before that statement and will also just as surely, later show a steep drop.
FTR, I am a Perry voter and will vote for him regardless (we are from Texas and have known and lived under his policies for years) , the majority of my tea party will do the same and believe they can't trust a single word the media writes or utters(sadly FOX is now also in this category), short of Perry committing murder or a felony crime, all of these people will still vote for him. The same cannot be said about Romney- we hear an alarming amount of people stating(mostly the seniors) that they will not vote for him period. If there is a third party they will vote for that person instead . One elderly guy said very matter of factly to me," If these young voters turn out to be fools and decide to go for ANOTHER greasy car salesman who will say anything to be elected then let them own it, I ain't gonna live for ever and I will not vote for a non conservative, so if all that is left is a protest vote-so be it" I've said this many times, but IMHO, Romney cannot be elected in the South- he is pro/anti/pro/anti abortion and both he and his wife donated to Planned Parenthood,he is a decidedly anti-2nd amendment, big government, AGW believing, pro taxing and the real clincher is Romney care. Even selecting a Rubio or a southern VP will not save him with those stances. He has no chance whatsoever in our area. These meetings only solidify for me the feeling out here away from the D.C. beltway and metro areas.
So, regardless of the media narrative of Perry's campaign crashing and burning,regardless of polls,etc-nothing has changed here except Cain's favorable opinion. It is interesting that in spite of the polling and media stories, Mitt is STILL putting out attack ads and hit pieces on Perry-he shows who he really fears and knows Cain is indeed the flavor of the month. Cain is still my second choice, although he has really fallen in my eyes this past week. I hope he can redeem himself because he is for the most part a good decent guy who just does not have the political experience to avoid stepping into these media traps, he is in for some real on the job training.