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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

No love for Mitt Romney at Fla tea party convention



DAYTONA BEACH– At the Florida Tea Party Convention Saturday, you could find buttons calling for Marco Rubio to be on the presidential ticket, t-shirts declaring that Barack Obama has made communism cool again, and freeze-dried foods to last up to 25 years in case society collapses.


Scarce among the hundreds of conservative activists gathered in Daytona Beach? Any enthusiasm for Mitt Romney, the man widely expected to win the Republican presidential nomination.

"The party establishment has wanted Romney all along, and they've been pushing him on us," lamented James Koll of Fort Dodge, Iowa, who said he would support a third party candidate or write in a candidate before voting for Romney.

His brother, retiree Don Koll of The Villages in central Florida, nodded in agreement.

"Some of these Republicans think they have our votes in the bag no matter what, but they don't," he said, complaining that no top-tier Republican candidates came to the tea party convention. "They're turning their back on us, and they will pay a price."

It's one of the most critical questions facing Republicans determined to oust Obama: Is the president polarizing enough to energize the Republican base?

If not, Romney's claim that he is the most electable Republican could fall flat.

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[Last modified: Saturday, November 5, 2011 8:57pm]


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