Romney Visits Georgia While Positioning For Momentum

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

Mitt Romney is scheduled for a Georgia visit today, holding a fundraiser at the Georgia Aquarium. Fishing for both dollars and support among the Georgia GOP faithful, Romney is the candidate who has been in the top tier since the race was mere speculation, but has also probably received the least local press. There are, after all, two in the race with direct ties to Georgia. Others have made news for their propensity to make mistakes along the way. Romney, by contrast, has been rather smooth and steady to the point of being boring. Most of his coverage has been rather incidental in that he is contrasted against the rest of the field who are fighting for the position of being “Not Mitt”.

Romney’s supporters are just fine with this designation, and are quite happy with how their candidate is positioned both nationally and in Georgia. While many point to Romney’s poll numbers which have held steady around 25 to 30% as a sign that his support has a ceiling, they see distinct advantages to his steady nature. While others have risen and fallen from the top tier, Romney has had a dedicated core from which to build a network of organizers and raise funds with the focus on moving voters during the momentum period of the early primaries.

As for fundraising, Romney leads all others. Insiders note that he raised more money in Georgia during the third quarter than he did in the same period of his 2008 campaign when he was not competing against two who claim Georgia as their home.

Romney’s Georgia support contains significant old line GOP stalwarts including three of the four past chairmen of the eventual GOP nominee’s campaigns. Fred Cooper, Oscar Persons, and Eric Tanenblatt chaired Georgia campaigns for George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, and George W. Bush, respectively. There is also current institutional support in the form of Attorney General Sam Olens, House Majority Whip Ed Lindsey, and a host of other elected officials.

While the list contains definite “establishment” Republicans from the metro area, there are also significant endorsements from more rural parts of the state. Conservative activists Joe McCutchen and Oscar Poole, owner of the political landmark Poole’s Barbecue, have anchored Team Romney for Northwest Georgia from Ellijay.

More southern parts of the state are represented in the Romney network as well, with Keith Stone (GOP 1st district chairman), Jon Jones (Tift County GOP Chair), Jerry Loupee (Former Chatham GOP Chair) and former Dublin Mayor Robert J Walker all publicly endorsing Romney’s Georgia effort.

Romney’s Georgia organization is not lacking in support from evangelical conservatives either. Among the Romney campaigns first local advisors was consultant Mark Demoss, whose Demoss Group claims to be the nation’s “first and largest public relations agency exclusively serving Christian leaders, businesses, non-profit organizations and causes.” Activists Orit Sklar and Ruth Malhotra, both known for suing Georgia Tech in 2006 to protect the free speech of conservatives on campus, have been supporting the Romney campaign since it was formed.

While Romney’s Georgia campaign clearly has endorsements, they also believe they have the right candidate with the right message at the right time. They believe the 2012 race is about turning around the economy, and promote Romney for his past turnaround efforts. From his career at Bain Capital, Romney was a turnaround specialist for businesses. He took over a failing Salt Lake City Olympic Games effort and made it a success. His tenure as Governor of Massachusetts is also billed as a turnaround operation, one that they would like to see taken to Washington.

As for the criticism of being stuck at 25 to 30% of Republican support, Romney’s Georgia folks appear unfazed. They note that he entered the race as the best known candidate, and thus has held steady a core group of supporters. They believe that the other three quarters of Republicans are going through a process of choosing their candidate, and are looking at those they don’t know before making their decision. They will have the opportunity to get more than a good share of those still looking at other candidates.

Georgia doesn’t vote until March 6th, which gives those with strong ground operations in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida a strong chance to influence momentum before votes are cast locally. Candidates who have been able to consistently raise money and build grass roots support are best positioned to take advantage of the campaign momentum that will rapidly change the race starting with Iowa’s January 3rd caucus.

There are 9 candidates on Georgia’s primary ballot jockeying for the position to be the “Not Mitt” candidate. Romney has the agenda setting advantage to build his team in his way while being afforded the luxury of just being Mitt. By the end of his visit today, he’ll have a few more dollars and a few more supporters to help him do just that.

26 comments

  1. 22bons says:

    It’s too bad we have Georgia based hacks leading the “Not Mitt Romney” campaign. They’ll slowly work their way through the five stages of grief. Right now they seem to be stuck on denial. It will get ugly when they reach the anger stage, and slowly improve from there.

  2. Engineer says:

    His religion is a non-issue for me, Romney just comes off as a pompous person and it makes him hard for me to like (well that and I don’t like his past policy records).

        • Calypso says:

          As I am an atheist, I don’t get worked up over someone’s myth system vs. another. It’s when said myth system intrudes on their decision making process as it relates to governance that I begin to have a problem.

          • CobbGOPer says:

            Well excuse me for being skeptical up front, instead of regretting my vote later. I’m an atheist too, so it’s bad enough that all I have to vote for here are semi- or full-blown fundie Christians (because an atheist candidate would be burned at the stake before being allowed to run for office, I’m pretty sure that’s state law). I’m not adding wacko Christian spin-off cults to the mix, despite the slick advertising billboards they’re throwing up in Buckhead and elsewhere.

            • Calypso says:

              As I see it, the only difference between Romney’s “wacko cult” and mainstream Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, ad infinitum, is about 1,850 years.

      • Engineer says:

        I disagree with the article you linked. It is his robotic tone and the facial expressions that he displays while speaking that make him appear pompous to me. It always feels like he’s trying to talk down to his audience, I dunno, it just rubs me the wrong way.

        • benevolus says:

          This is pretty much the most interesting thing about politics to me: Is it better to ignore all the facts and evidence and policy and “go with your gut”, or is it better to be very logical and policy oriented?
          On the one hand, you can have very capable people, but if they can’t lead and/or if they can’t get people to trust them, they will probably not be very effective.
          On the other hand, we can elect people we feel comfortable with who have no business running a giant organization like the country.
          I think we have done both.
          I guess it’s an eternal battle. If a charismatic candidate comes along, policy doesn’t much matter. A candidate without charisma needs something to help connect with voters. They either find that thing or they don’t.

  3. The Big Kahuna says:

    Are you kidding me? Mitt Romney? How many primaries did he win in the South in 2008? ZERO. The simple truth is if he is the GOP nominee Obama wins a second term. Why? Because Baptist’s don’t vote for Mormons. There is this rumor out there that the South contains a few of those. Say good bye to Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, but hey, the GOP will carry Utah.

    • KD_fiscal conservative says:

      But you are forgetting many of the Christian fundamentalists that don’t like Mormons also think Obama is some kind of Kenyan Muslim, Anti-Christ, and I’m sure they would rather have someone running as a anti-choice, anti-gay cultist over an extremist Muslim any day.

  4. Jawgadude says:

    The same crowd that gave us Bush 41, Bob Dole, and John McCain’t wants us to vote for Romney? If he’s the best the GOP can come with we might as well close shop and go home.

  5. Harry says:

    Have to admit, Newt is growing on me but the Force will come down hard on his lobbying business on behalf of Freddie/Fannie. But I love his idea of following Obama around the country if he doesn’t agree to substantive, Lincoln-Douglas debate formats.

    • saltycracker says:

      Newt vs. Obama in an open debate….what a hoot……forgetaboutit….Obama handlers would never allow it…….Why did Fannie hire Newt ??…to come up with a right twist ?
      That’s like R. Day hiring you to bartend….

        • Harry says:

          Yep, that’s a real tough nut for conservatives who would like to support Newt because of his knowledge and experience, but have issues with his mercurial personality and baggage.

          Oh well, back to Mitt. Having a successful, former hedge fund partner in the white house is actually not a bad idea. He must know how to analyze and solve problems, and he’s no drama queen.

          Do you really think people would tend not to vote for Mitt because of his religion? I personally know someone who wouldn’t vote for him in the 2008 primary because of it, but since then has had a change of mind about using it as a litmus test.

            • Harry says:

              I see one poster who says he wouldn’t vote for Romney because of religion, but I wonder if that’s a fairly general opinion? I read somewhere that 25% of respondents polled said they wouldn’t vote for a Mormon, but I wonder if true? I find Mormons to be more disciplined and better adjusted than the average.

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