Current Weather
The Spy FM

Retired GOP Voters In Ariz. Unmoved By Mesa Debate

Filed by KOSU News in Politics.
February 23, 2012

Back in October, a group of Republican voters in Arizona gathered at NPR’s request to watch one of the early GOP presidential debates on TV. Wednesday night, they got together again. NPR’s Ted Robbins watched with them in Saddlebrooke, a retirement community northwest of Tucson, and asked them to share their thoughts.

Four months ago, Dick and Peg Alford sent out an email inviting members of the Saddlebrooke Republican Club to their house to watch one of the early debates. Back then, eight people showed up to watch eight candidates. Wednesday night, 15 people showed up to watch the remaining four candidates square off in Mesa, Ariz.

After some food and drink, the group of retirees settled down to watch. There weren’t as many laughs this time. The candidates didn’t seem to score many big points with this group, either — not even when border security, a big topic in Arizona, came up.

Maybe that’s because the candidates were sitting down; maybe it’s because they were more practiced.

Afterward, Peg Alford said she thought this debate was more dignified, had fewer attacks and focused more on beating President Obama than earlier debates.

“They finally came to the conclusion that you have to stick together, because the one we’re fighting against is the ideology of a party we don’t agree with,” she said.

This group also may have been a tad less interested in the debate because they have made up their minds. More than half had already cast their votes by mail for the state’s GOP primary Feb. 28. Of the 15, nine support former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Six want former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. None said they support former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum or Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

That’s surprising because some recent Arizona polls have shown Santorum virtually tied for the lead. So much for the polls, say these folks.

Roy Christiansen had one theory: “I’m wondering if it’s because he has emphasized family values, and people here are saying, hey, it’s jobs, the economy, international affairs, budgets — it’s that sort of thing that’s really the top priority these days.”

Another voter here said she thought Santorum comes across as too angry.

These Saddlebrooke residents are all retired business people and their spouses. For them, the overriding question seemed to be who can beat President Obama in November.

Gingrich supporters like Nancy Macdonald said their guy is the smartest, most experienced in the field.

“He’s so incredibly knowledgeable about what he’s doing. He knows people all over the world. He’s got so much history and he’s a historian,” she said.

Romney supporters like Jack Schreiber said their guy has the necessary experience as an executive to be president.

“Number one, he’s been a governor,” he said. “Number two, he’s been a businessman, and he saved the Olympics. I don’t care what they say about what he did, the Olympics was failing, and they got him in there as a lifeguard and he pulled it out of the hat, and he made $300 million. And I think he’s our man.”

Even the Gingrich supporters said Romney appeared more polished in Wednesday night’s debate. And Bob Schwartz said only Romney can beat Obama.

“I’ve had a number of people in Saddlebrooke come up to me and tell me that they would vote for Romney if he was our candidate,” he said, “so we’ve got to appeal to the center and the conservative Democrats if we’re going to defeat Obama.”

Everyone at this debate-watching party said they like the current Republican candidates just fine, and that they hate the president — and hate is not too strong a word for Larry Stinson.

“I’m almost 80 years old,” he said, “and I tell you what, I’m totally at the point where I’d like to leave this country if the sucker gets back in. It won’t happen. But honestly, I think he’s destroying this country.”

They all agreed that whoever gets the Republican nomination will get their vote, their money and their volunteer efforts in the general election. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

5PM to 7PM A Prairie Home Companion

A Prairie Home Companion

Live every Saturday night, A Prairie Home Companion features comedy sketches, music and Garrison Keillor's signature monologue, "The News from Lake Wobegon."

Listen Live Now!

7PM to 8PM Folk Salad

Folk Salad

Folk Salad Hosts Richard Higgs and Scott Aycock play an eclectic mix of Folk, Singer/songwriter, Americana, Bluegrass, Blues, Red Dirt, and anything else we happen to like that week.

View the program guide!

8PM to 9PM For the Sake of the Song

For the Sake of the Song

Greg Johnson, owner of The Blue Door in Oklahoma City gathers the best Red Dirt musicians in the region for his show.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center