Three candidates do morning campaign stops in Florence

Between 9 a.m. and noon today, three of the Republican candidates for President blitzed through Florence: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry. Together, the three candidates covered four events across the town, leading a trail of interested party activists and hustling news media reporters as they made their way through and off to afternoon events elsewhere in South Carolina.

From diners to art shops, back-slapping to philosphical dissertations, today's candidate stops had it all, giving Florence voters a rare opportunity to sample several of their options in the same morning.

First up was Mitt Romney at the Florence Civic Center. Making it out early for 9 a.m. stop, about two hundred turned out for the event, joined by at least sixty news media.

Romney was introduced by his wife Ann who opened the event by talking about their family and her husband on a personal level. Making no mention of his primary opponents, Romney spent much of his short speech focusing on attacking Obama, mostly on fiscal and defense issues, calling the Obama agenda “a detour, not a destination”. He endorsed the "Cut, Cap and Balance" approach favored by Senator Jim DeMint.

An hour later, about 150 turned out in Florence to greet Newt Gingrich in downtown Florence. Local state Representative Kris Crawford and Florence County GOP Chair Bill Pickle warmed up the crowd for Gingrich, whose first Florence stop was a private fundraiser.

In the opening of his stump speech, Gingrich hoped to face Obama in the fall campaign: “The number one question that South Carolinas can settle on Saturday … ‘what do we have to do to nominate someone who can defeat Obama in the debates this fall’”, touching on moments from last night’s Myrtle Beach debate.

Talking about the accomplishments of the Republican Congress of the late 1990s, which he helped lead for four years as House Speaker, he touched on a point he raised in last night’s debate, saying the fall campaign should be about “the Paycheck President versus the Food Stamp President”.

At noon, Rick Perry stopped at the 301 Diner, a long-time Florence favorite to greet customers and employees. While those dining didn’t mind being all but run over by news media people, we were waiting for a photographer or two to fall onto a table or into a grease fire. This had the same kind of retail campaign marketing feel that was evident on visits like the Summerville Main Street campaign stop.

Riding herd over the day’s events were the Florence County Republican Party’s high command: Chairman Bill Pickle, Vice-Chair Stephanie Rawlinson and recently-appointed Vice-Chair Ethan Rivera. They managed to help all three campaigns coordinate these events and keep party activists and reporters moving through all four events. Three candidates, four events, definitely five stars.

3 Response to "Three candidates do morning campaign stops in Florence"

  1. Bill Pickle 17/1/12 22:50
    Earl, thanks for coming to Florence. It's always good to see you. Hope you come back soon. It was a busy day for Florentines. Three different candidates. Three different styles. Three different personalities. Three similar, yet different possibilities.
  2. Alan Thompson 20/1/12 20:46
  3. earlcapps 20/1/12 21:19
    Mr. Thompson, there are no write-ins allowed. If you want to be President, 1) do your homework on ballot access requirements and 2) work on eye contact while speaking.

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