Brownback picks up some supporters at the MIGOP Convention

GOP convention looks toward presidential race

February 10, 2007BY DAWSON
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERMichigan Republicans tried to shake the depression leftover from the fall election today by looking forward to the presidential sweepstakes in 2008.By all indications, it’s going to take awhile longer.

Despite appearances at the state convention in Grand Rapids by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Kansas U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, and pep talks from surrogates for Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, GOP activists appeared to be a bit wary and worried about what the future holds and whom they’d follow into it.“I’m not wowed yet,” said Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, one of a dwindling number of high profile GOPers in statewide office.

All of the potential candidates, including others like former Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, have shortcomings, Land said.

Convention delegates seemed to share her reservations.

Genesee County Republicans Coy and Ruth Thomason said they were supporting Brownback and Romney respectively, but neither with passionate commitment just yet.

The Thomasons described themselves as “ultra conservatives,” and said they’d be hard pressed to support a social liberal like Giuliani. Unless, of course, he was the Republican nominee running against Hillary Clinton.

Romney, son of former Michigan Gov. George Romney, and his supporters spent much of the two-day convention addressing concerns that he too was a suspect conservative. Meeting with reporters before his speech Saturday, Romney was asked three times about abortion and whether evangelical Christians would warm to a Mormon candidate.

Romney said he’s “firmly pro-life,” and not worried about religious bias. Most Americans don’t have a religious test, he said; voters want a president who shares their values and is “a person of faith.”

McCain also tailored his appeal to conservatives. A promotional video that aired on his behalf in the convention hall featured more shots of Ronald Reagan than of McCain himself.

But McCain supporters said he has more momentum in
Michigan than any of the others. With Giuliani’s entry into the race last week, “McCain gets to be the true conservative candidate,” said Dave Dishaw, a top McCain operative in
Michigan. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who represented McCain at the convention, said the Vietnam War POW “is in a league of his own on the subjective qualities” people look for in a presidential candidate, like leadership and courage.

Still, the most enthusiasm generated for a presidential hopeful at this weekend’s convention was for the speech by Brownback. He touted bedrock conservative values and earned a standing ovation for it.

More than a few of those who gave it to him though, said later they don’t think he’s got much chance of winning.

Published in: on February 11, 2007 at 2:32 am  Leave a Comment  

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