Skip to comments.Gingrich, Santorum work to sway voters at GOP forum at Alabama Theatre (Newt has the fire)
Posted on 03/13/2012 1:59:37 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama --- Obie Evans walked into tonight's GOP presidential forum at the Alabama Theatre in shorts, a tall floppy red, white and blue hat and two candidate stickers pasted on either side of his white sports shirt.
On his left side was a Rick Santorum sticker. On his right, a Newt Gingrich sticker.
"I really, really could not decide between those two," Evans said of Santorum and Gingrich.
Four hours later, Evans walked out of the old theater still with both stickers showing but his mind almost made up.
"It's not 100 percent, but I think I'm going to vote for Newt," said Evans, who lives in Minor in western Jefferson County. "I think he just showed a lot of fight tonight, a get-after-it-mentality and I like that."
Evans said he was impressed with Santorum, too, but that he felt the former Pennsylvania senator didn't show the fire in the belly quality that Gingrich did.
"Both boys said a lot of things I agree with, but it's the way Newt said it that I think has me going with him Tuesday," Evans said.
Tonight's forum came on the eve of Alabama's Democratic and Republican primaries. Voters at the polls today will also choose candidates for Congress, judicial seats and other offices.
And unlike in past election years, Alabama's primary figures importantly in the race for the nomination for president.
Both in the conversations overheard leaving the theater and in more than a dozen-plus interviews outside, the opinions expressed consistently, even among some Santorum supporters, were that Gingrich had probably out-performed Santorum in the forum.
"I came here tonight a Santorum vote and I'm voting for him tomorrow, but you have to give Gingrich credit. He had a lot of energy and he performed really well," said Sandra Williams of Alabaster.
If Gingrich's strong showing in the forum translates into votes in Tuesday's GOP presidential primary, it will be good news for Gingrich, an adopted son of the Deep South, whose presidential campaign has poured time and dollars into winning in both Alabama and Mississippi in an all-out effort to keep his candidacy viable against front-runner Mitt Romney and Santorum, who is battling Gingrich to emerge as the most conservative alternative to Romney.
Romney did not take part in today's forum. However, he and his wife were both in the state today. Romney was in a rainy Mobile where he celebrated his 65th birthday with a rally at a cafe with the comedian Jeff Foxworthy. Later in the day, Ann Romney made a quick trip into the state where she made stops in Montgomery, Birmingham and Huntsville. Santorum, before today's forum appearance, made a stop at one of Tuscaloosa's most famous landmarks, the original Dreamland Bar-B-Que. He closed his day with a late night rally in Montgomery.
But it was the GOP forum that, by far, drew the most interest. The 2,000 seats in the theater were packed out early to listen to the two candidates, who never appeared together for the event.
Instead, Santorum took the stage and talked for more than a half-hour. He stressed the kind of traditional values he would champion as president: Love of God, family, country, obedience to the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence with a smaller federal government.
Santorum said Barack Obama's America has a very different set of values.
"They believe you get your rights from the government," Santorum said. "Their view is, 'You will do what you are told with your new rights.' The problem is, the government is not the source of rights. ... We know where they come from. It's in the Declaration of Independence. They come from. ... the creator. President Obama sees an America that is great because it takes money from some and gives it to others."
Santorum, as he has at other stops, hit Romney and Gingrich as men who have records in health care policy, in budget policy, in energy policy who make them not the best candidate to go up against Obama.
Gingrich began his talk as he always does, hitting Obama on the high price of gas and what he calls Obama's failed energy policy.
As president, Gingrich said he would open up offshore lands to drilling in addition to more government lands currently protected from drilling. He said he would immediately move to approve a new oil pipeline from Canadian to Texas. He hit Obama repeatedly for his call for more biofuels using algae and other materials.
"I believe that in the years ahead, maybe algae will be a good source of energy, but algae won't fill up your car's tank this summer, "Gingrich said as the hall erupted in laughter.
On Obama, Gingrich challenged him.
"I'll let him run this fall as President Algae in support of $10 a gallon gas and I'll run as President Drilling and supporting $2.50 cent a gallon gas and let's see who wins," Gingrich said.
Gingrich stressed his experience as what is needed to change Washington, and he stressed how important Tuesday's primary is to him.
"Tomorrow really matters," Gingrich told the crowd. "Experience really matters. I hope you will elect a leader who has that experience and who can beat Barack Obama."
Tom Rogers of Calera came out of today's forum just as he went in.
"I came in believing that Santorum best spoke to my issues, best expressed how I want the president to feel about freedom, about a faith in God you don't hide in public life and about the life of the unborn," Rogers said. "I leave tonight comfortable with Sen. Santorum and I'll vote for him."
Kitty Lester came into tonight leaning toward Gingrich but having not ruled out Santorum. She ruled him out after the performance by Gingrich.
"Sen. Santorum was fine in what he said. Didn't say a thing I disagreed with," Lester said. "But, did you hear Newt? Did you hear that fight in him? He's ready to debate Obama right now, tonight and beat him. Really, I didn't see a lot of difference between Santorum or Newt but there was a difference and it was Newt is ready to fight, fight and fight. ... He has my vote."
Jon Drake of Prattville drove up for the forum undecided. He left wearing a Newt button.
"Santorum was really good but Newt rules," said Drake. "I want the guy who takes on the president to be just as convinced as Obama is that he's right. We need passion and Newt has it."
As a Christian, I am called by God for some purpose. Aren’t you?
Guenevere’s tag line does not specify for what purpose God has called Santorum. Maybe God has called him not for the Presidency, but as a last prophet before a chastisement. The point is we don’t know, and as I said, she does not specify.
...I get it that you don't like my tagline.....but I don't understand why it upsets you so.
It's my opinion, it's part of what I believe.
You can agree or disagree.
You say I accuse others of inappropriate remarks....well, duh...
...there have been plenty of inappropriate remarks against Santorum.
But what does that have to do with my tagline.
If you don't like my tagline, ignore it!
I don't even know who this 'compatriot' is that hurt your feelings ????...who is it?
And whatever he/she said, I didn't.
Take it up with whoever said it, OK.
I'm not against you.....I don't dislike you....I don't even know you....and I'm certainly not here to judge you.
... you're human...you have feelings and I'm sorry they are hurt.
I'm just here to defend Rick Santorum the best I can.
But God is sovereign....He alone knows how all of this will turn out.----I certainly accept that.
...and in the end, His will is what I want most of all.....
Hopefully it will be Rick Santorum
...and if not...so be it.
Also....I should not have let my ire run away this AM.....I don't know who Satin Doll is but surely let his/her post get under my skin.
That is not a productive use of time, for sure.
Thank-you txrangerette for continuing the dialog so we could work things out!
...and responded purely out of emotion.
I should have been more civil....even in disagreeing..
For not doing so, I apologize.
If your guy gets the nomination, I not only will congratulate you, I will surely vote for him!
It depends on how a mandate works. Every driver has to buy liability insurance, and drivers that don’t or that can’t (because of their driving record) go into a risk pool and have to post a bond.
The good thing about a mandate is that there has to be some provision for buying health insurance...I was not able to buy it privately (because I’m self-employed) for 25 years because I had had a melanoma removed when I was in my early 30s. I tried to get them to write me a policy with an exception, and they told me that testing for it would cost too much and therefore they wouldn’t insure.
Having people post a bond or go into a pool is not necessariily a bad idea and can help people, such as the self-employed, people with pre-existing conditions, etc., who normally can’t get insurance and then end up exhausting their personal savings (as happened to me once) or going on welfare and having the state pay for it.
What is a bad idea is having a sole provider (the government) and forcing people to either buy or contribute to that.
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