Tea party ‘all over the map’ on GOP field
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“If you don’t vote, you are voting for Obama,’’ Beinecke said. “My husband and I think Romney has the experience, but he has the problem of being a moderate.”
Gingrich and Paul, Beinecke said, “are not electable; and Santorum doesn’t have the experience, but he is the most consistent on the issues.”
A January poll by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut asked GOP voters which candidates they believe would be best handling the nation’s thorniest issues; and Quinnipiac broke out numbers that showed more self-identified tea party voters say Gingrich would be best at handling foreign policy (50 percent), immigration (30 percent), and would have the most “knowledge and experience” to be president (48 percent).
A plurality of 30 percent said Romney, though, would do the best job handling the economy.
Romney may not be the first choice of most tea party activists, but, if he ends up as the nominee, most will back him, said Tom Zawistowski of Portage County in northeast Ohio, president of the Ohio Liberty Council.
“To say that Romney would be the lesser of two evils is totally inadequate to describe the choice between him and Obama,’’ Zawistowski said. “That would be a choice between socialism and liberty. I can’t think of anyone you wouldn’t choose over Obama.”
Zawistowski said he doesn’t see any evidence of the tea party activists lining up behind any candidate yet in large numbers, although he said both Santorum and Gingrich have substantial support.
Littleton is a Paul supporter – he was one of about 30 Ohio Liberty Council leaders who, last fall, announced their personal endorsements of the Texas congressman who ran as the Libertarian candidate for president in in 1988.
But Littleton has no illusions that Paul, who has yet to win a state primary or caucus, is going to be the GOP nominee.
“There are many of us in the movement behind Ron Paul,’’ Littleton said. “We don’t necessarily think he is going to win.
“But we are glad he is there and is a solid alternative,’’ Littleton said. “He makes it more interesting because he forces the others to address issues they might not otherwise.”
But, among the self-identified tea party voters, Littleton said, “there is definitely not a consensus. It just doesn’t exist.”
Pam Jones, a West Chester Tea Party activist who worked the information table at last Thursday’s candidate forum, agreed that there is no single “tea party candidate.”
“No matter who comes out of this process, though,’’ she said, “he would be far better than what we have now. That’s the important thing.”