Romney and Palin and Huck
While Jacksonville may not be New Hampshire, there has been a flurry of Republican activity in the region over the past few weeks. In an area that has been pretty solidly GOP over the past several election cycles, this could be a precursor to what we might see as Republicans try to hold President Obama to one term.
The showcase event was Governor Mitt Romney at the Lincoln Day Dinner. 750 people crowded into the Hayatt Regency ballroom for a speech by the former Governor and Presidential candidate. Romney delivered a red-meat speech to a very friendly crowd, and received a standing ovation for his efforts. Talking to people after the speech, the word I heard most often was “fantastic”, and people left the hall energized.
Sarah Palin came to town a few weeks later for a book signing at Books-a-Million at the Orange Park Mall. Her book “Going Rogue”, which has topped the New York Times bestseller list, proved very popular in NE Florida. People were lined up two days in advance to get the wrist band that would get you back in the line to have your book signed. Former Governor Palin, who continues to be excoriated by the late- and not-so-late-night chat shows, certainly drew a crowd in Orange Park.
Just as an aside, if former Governor Palin was the lightweight that she’s portrayed to be by the left, they’d simply ignore her. The know she’s someone who has strong ideas and can be attractive to moderate voters. Not to mention that they desperately don’t want the first woman President or Vice President to be a Republican. They’ve staked out that territory for themselves, but I digress
Rounding out the triumvirate is former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who will speak at Jacksonville University Wednesday. Huckabee did well in this area last go around, and he’ll probably draw a good crowd at JU.
This kind of parade of Presidential hopefuls usually troops through the cold and snow of New Hampshire in the wintertime, though not usually more than two years before the primary season. It’s a sure bet that there have already been some forays into the Nutmeg state, but it is certainly good to see prominent Republicans making appearances in our area.
It leads one to think that, just a year after the inauguration, Republicans are not going to sit back and hope things will happen. The events in New Jersey and Virginia have given the GOP some momentum heading into the midterms, and some analysts point to a continuing shift in the Mountain West, where Democrats who won by narrow margins could be particularly vulnerable. Here in Florida, too, Democrats at many levels who might have ridden President Obama’s coat tails could be in a position to be upset in the next cycle. And appearances by politicians with a lot of marquee value serve to remind people that we have an obligation to be active and involved and thinking about what kind of country we want. If we’re not satisfied with the government we have, there is only one way to affect change, and that’s to vote for the candidate that has your values.
Getting out to see them, even when they’re not (officially) candidates, is important. These past few weeks have been a rare opportunity to start getting to know the standard-bearers we’ll likely see in another year or two.
If you’re like me, you’re already ready for it to begin again.