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Another Southern Win Keeps Santorum Optimistic

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
March 25, 2012

Rick Santorum had been expected to win Louisiana’s Republican presidential primary Saturday, but the size of the victory was a surprise. The former Pennsylvania senator captured 49 percent of the GOP vote. Mitt Romney, who is the front-runner nationally, finished a distant second with nearly 27 percent. Santorum sees it as evidence that the party still has big doubts about Romney.

Among those who voted for Santorum was 54-year-old Curt Thurmon in Shreveport.

“I feel like even though I like Newt Gingrich better, I feel like Rick’s the only one who stands a chance against [President] Obama,” he says. “I’m an engineer. I deal in statistics. It’d be wasting my vote to vote for [Gingrich].”

But the odds facing Santorum are long as well, given Romney’s big — some say insurmountable — delegate lead. Thurmon says he recognizes the challenge for Santorum.

“Then it comes to an ethical deal,” he says, “where I do feel like Santorum is a better pick than Romney.”

Retiree Barbara Qualey also cast her ballot at the Lakeview United Methodist Church. She too went for Santorum, but said, come the general election, she’s happy to vote for Romney.

“I would vote for anybody who is running against Obama,” she says.

A 90-minute drive from Shreveport is the town of Alexandria and a polling place at an elementary school. Carl Wynn, 81, is a businessman, a military veteran and a Gingrich supporter.

“Santorum is a fine man, but I think he’s a lightweight when it comes to handling the country and the problems we have,” he says.

Also in Alexandria, 38-year-old Christopher Chenovert disagrees with that assessment. He voted for Santorum and says he likes the candidate’s Christian beliefs. Chenovert also describes himself as a pro-gun, fiscal and Tea Party conservative. The big question for him is why Gingrich is still in the race. He says that only hurts Santorum’s chances of making a comeback.

“Gingrich, come on … you ought to know when to quit,” he says.

At a polling place in the state capitol, Baton Rouge, 29-year-old Colby Cypriano voted for Romney. She admits she’s not exactly thrilled with the Romney candidacy, but she sees him as the best chance to defeat Obama.

“Probably out of the Republican candidates he’s the one who can pull in the most independents,” she says, “and that’s really I think gonna be a big decision-maker.”

Still, she winces a bit when asked about last week’s Etch A Sketch remark by a top Romney adviser. Exit polls in Louisiana show that 39 percent of voters said that incident was a factor in their decision — 20 percent said the comment was “important” to their vote.

It’s the kind of thing — along with a big win in Louisiana — that gives Santorum hope. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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