Thursday, November 08, 2007

Mitt Romney Visits Mike's America

Romney: "A Yankee with Southern Values?"

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Mike goes eyeball to eyeball with candidate Romney on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, Wednesday, November 7. Above, Romney answers Mike's Question asking what assurance Romney could provide conservatives that if elected, he would govern as the conservative. Photo by Mike's America

On the same day Rudy Giuliani cancelled a visit to Mike's America so he could accept the endorsement of conservative Christian leader Pat Robertson, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney dropped in instead.

Around noon on Wednesday, Governor Romney arrived at "Stacks" Restaurant (no, it's not a knockoff of Hooters, Stacks serves pancakes) on Hilton Head Island. Romney campaign planners were pleasantly surprised when twice the number of people expected showed up to meet Mitt and hear him speak.

Mitt delivered his standard stump speech citing the three pillars of his plan for America: 1. Strengthen our military (100,000 more troops and upgraded equipment) 2. Strengthen our economy (No taxes on savings or investments for those under $200,000 income) and 3. Strengthen our families (support traditional marriage).

The crowd, packed in like sardines and composed mainly of Senior Citizens, was politely enthusiastic. Many later said they thought Romney was the best conservative running and they trusted he would make a good President.

The following video clip by Michael Edenfield, online editor of the Island Packet gives you a taste of the event:

Later at an outdoor press briefing (1 minute 5 seconds into above video) A reporter asked Mitt how he would win over South Carolina's social conservatives. He instantly went on the attack against Rudy Giuliani saying that he didn't think "The Republican Party is going to choose a pro-choice, pro-gay Civil Union candidate to lead our party."

Mike's America asked the follow-up question (paraphrasing) "We've been disappointed in candidates who run as conservatives then compromise our values with Democrats. How would you assure South Carolina conservatives that you would govern as a conservative if elected President?"

Video Update: Mitt Answers Mike. WSAV in Savannah, Georgia was kind enough to post the answer to Mike's question as a web exclusive. Click here to view. The video opens with Mitt describing his conservative bona fides in answering the question, then moves indoors for an extended video excerpt from Mitt's Stump speech providing further details on his three pronged plan to 1. strengthen our military, 2. strengthen our economy and 3. strengthen Americas' familes.

His answer was more a laundry list of conservative positions rather than any assurance on how he would govern. Perhaps a better answer might be to point to his accomplishments in Massachusetts achieved even with the handicap of a state legislature where Democrats hold a super-majority in both houses.

However you look at it, the question is a difficult one to answer and that's why I ask that to all of the candidates if given the chance. Many conservatives are wary of politicians who tell us what they think we want to hear, which makes that question all the more valid. And Mitt did claim in his speech to be a "Yankee Governor with Southern values" while admitting when he goes to Iowa he is a "Yankee with Heartland values" and tells the folks back in New England he's a "Yankee with Yankee values."

Three Way Horse Race in SC About to become Two Way or Romney Runaway?

The latest South Carolina polling averages from Real Clear Politics show Romney edging up significantly to take the lead while top rivals Giuliani and Thompson are both down slightly. There is also some buzz on the national political scene that Thompson is not catching fire and that the GOP contest may come down to a two man race between Romney and Rudy.

On Hilton Head, Romney dodged a question about Mike Huckabee and focused his attack solely on Rudy. Jonathon Martin, who writes for the Politico, also attended Wednesday's event and reports the Rudy campaign response:

Giuliani spokeswoman Maria Comella responded to Romney's jab by noting that Romney himself had previously been pro-choice and favorably disposed to civil unions. “It would seem someone forgot to show Mitt Romney today’s USA/Gallup survey, Comella said. " It's clear that Republicans across the board are supporting the experienced candidate who actually sticks with his positions and has used conservative principles to get results."

Romney: No More Mr. Nice Guy?

Romney is clearly taking off the gloves and going after Rudy. In a mailing to Iowa voters (photo) Romney slams New York as a Sanctuary City for illegal aliens with the direct implication that Rudy is to blame. "Cracking Down on Illegal Immigration" was the title of a more positive mailing in South Carolina, which also highlighted Romney's record and conservative credentials.

Decision Time for Mike's America

In a few weeks it will be time for me to make up my mind and declare myself in support of one of the GOP candidates. I've been fortunate to meet and question the top three personally and the subliminal vibe gained from that is what is helping me make up my mind.

Previous Visits in this series:

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