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.
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.
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.