Support for Mitt Romney remains strong in Linn County, maybe stronger than it was four years ago when the former Massachusetts governor carried the county in the Iowa precinct caucuses.
“He has a lot of support here and this visit is energizing,” former Linn County GOP Chairman Mark Hudson said as he waited for Romney to speak at Diamond V in southwest Cedar Rapids Dec. 9.
It was Romney’s first visit to Linn County in more than six months – a far different strategy than he employed ahead of the 2008 caucuses when he spent nine times as many days in Iowa as he has this election cycle.
Despite that absence, many at Romney’s town-hall meeting were followers from 2008 who still see him as the party’s strongest challenger to President Barack Obama.
“We made up our minds four years ago,” Joyce Dierks of Marion said. Romney, she said, will get the economy moving in the right direction.
Even with that strong residual support and backing Romney is picking up this year, Hudson stopped short of predicting a repeat of his 2008 when Romney won nearly 31 percent of votes cast at Linn County caucuses. Instead, he simply said, “We want to do well.”
Romney apparently wants to do well and to that end promised to spend significant time in the state and advertise heavily in the final days of the 2012 caucus campaign that will culminate Jan. 3.
In a news conference after his town hall meeting, Romney said he’s been busy in other states and raising the funds for a campaign.
Now, he said, “We’re getting closer to the caucuses … this is heavy campaign time.”
Tim Palmer, another Cedar Rapids Republican who worked for Romney four years ago, believes most of the 2008 supporters are still with Romney.
“There hasn’t been much a decline,” he said. “If anything, his support is stronger because of what’s happened in the past three years” under the Obama administration.
“It validates everything (Romney) said then and is saying now,” Palmer said.
Although Romney’s supporters were sticking to the “anyone of ours is better than Obama” line Friday, they didn’t hesitate to make clear that Romney is a better choice than former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Republicans like Gingrich’s ideas and some said they would like to see him as a part of the Romney administration.
The differences between the two are clear, said Rep. Renee Schulte, R-Cedar Rapids, a 2008 supporter who got a shout-out from Romney.
“Mitt Romney spent his life working as a conservative businessman, growing businesses and creating jobs,” she said. “Newt Gingrich spent the last decades in Washington as a professional politician, and only left to cash in. The problems facing our country were caused by career politicians – they certainly won’t be solved by another career politician.”
Palmer suggested Gingrich’s time has passed.
“Does he have a role in the party?” Palmer said. “Yes and I think he’s played it.”
On the calendar:
Mitt Romney, 10:35 a.m., town hall, Diamond V, 2575 60th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids
Rick Santorum, 8 a.m., town hall, Ferrari’s, Cedar Falls; 11 a.m., University of Northern Iowa forum “Addressing the Challenges and Opportunities in Education Today.” Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, Cedar Falls; 3 p.m., Uncle Nancy’s Coffee, Newton; 6 p.m., major announcement, Des Moines
Ron Paul, 9 a.m., Webster City Fire Station; 1 p.m., Mason City High; 4 p.m., Waverly Public Library; 7 p.m., Youth for Ron Paul, University of Northern Iowa Maucker Union, Slife Ballroom, Cedar Falls
Michele Bachmann, Nationwide Insurance, Des Moines
Rick Santorum, town hall, Jefferson; noon, town hall, Waukee
Ron Paul, 10 a.m., Fisher Community Center, Marshalltown
Rick Perry, 12:30 p.m., Café Diem Coffee House, Ames
Rick Santorum, 11 a.m., Tabernacle Baptist Church, 2050 1st Ave., Coralville; 1 p.m., Amana Colonies, 800 48th Ave., Amana; 6:30 p.m., house party, Mitchell family, 570 Evergreen Ln., Robins
Rick Santorum, noon, Principal Group, Des Moines; 3 p.m., Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Thomas Commons, Hedges Conference Room; 6:30 p.m., Linn County Republican Christmas Party, Longbranch Hotel and Convention Center, 90 Twixt Town Rd., Cedar Rapids
Rick Santorum, town hall, Lincoln Café, Belle Plaine; 1:30 p.m., meet with employees at VGM & Associates, Waterloo; 4 p.m., town hall, Fireside Pub, Manchester; 6:30 p.m., National Contract Management Association, Campbell Steele Gallery, 1064 7th Ave., Marion
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