Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Romney is facing skepticism in Republican South

JACKSON, Miss. — Mitt Romney faces a tough sell in the Deep South. With Mississippi and Alabama primaries coming up Tuesday, there's concern that he's too slick, not really a conservative. In a region where the evangelical vote is important, some are skeptical about his Mormon faith.

But if Romney wins the Republican nomination and it's a November choice between him and Democratic President Barack Obama, the former Massachusetts governor may be just good enough for some Southerners.

"If push comes to shove and he gets the nomination, I'll go in the voting booth like this and vote for him," says Mississippi retiree David Wilke, holding his nose.

Romney acknowledges he faces an uphill battle. In an interview Thursday with Birmingham, Ala., radio station WAPI, he said the Deep South contests would be "a bit of an away game" for him.

Campaigning in Pascagoula, Miss., Romney said he is turning into an "unofficial Southerner."

"I'm learning to say 'y'all' and I like grits. Strange things are happening to me," he said jokingly.

Still, Romney is supported by top Republicans in many Southern states, including in Alabama, and he'll speak in Birmingham today. He has been endorsed by former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, though Riley concedes Romney is an underdog in the state.

"Mitt Romney is the only candidate with the leadership and business experience to take our country through this difficult economic situation and bring us out stronger," Riley said. "If there was ever time to have a job creator in the White House, it is now."

In Louisiana, which holds its primary in two weeks, state Republican Executive Director Jason Dore said support for GOP candidates seems to be fluctuating to match the national battle over the nomination.

In Mississippi, Romney has been endorsed by most statewide elected officials, including Gov. Phil Bryant, who announced his support Thursday shortly before a Romney rally in the coastal city of Pascagoula. Bryant supported Texas Gov. Rick Perry before he dropped out.

Comments
Rick Scott issues executive order on sexual harassment reporting for state employees

Rick Scott issues executive order on sexual harassment reporting for state employees

Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday issued an executive order that he said will standardize the handling of sexual harassment complaints and investigations at executive branch state agencies.Scott said his order takes clear action to protect against workpla...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3

UPDATE, 11:29: In needing to acquire about $400,000 in international cap money to complete the deal for Marte, the Rays made a deal with familiar trade partner Seattle. In fact, they sent back one of the players they got from the Mariners in an Augus...
Updated: 5 hours ago
All Eyes gallery: Octavio Jones favorite photos of 2017

All Eyes gallery: Octavio Jones favorite photos of 2017

This year as a photojournalist for the Tampa Bay Times was quite eventful. I covered the University of Florida Men’s basketball team to the Elite Eight tournament in New York from the University of South Florida football return to a winning tea...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens dies at age 62

Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens dies at age 62

Pat DiNizio, the lead singer/guitarist for '80s power rockers The Smithereens, passed away Tuesday, the band announced overnight. He was 62."It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Pat DiNizio, lead singer and songwriter of the influ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rep. Lois Frankel keeps pushing for Trump impeachment

Rep. Lois Frankel keeps pushing for Trump impeachment

Florida Congresswoman Lois Frankel is not holding back in calls for impeaching President Donald Trump, even as Democratic leaders are cautious of proceeding too quickly with investigations still ongoing.The West Palm Beach Democrat today sent a campa...
Updated: 4 hours ago
2018 Gasparilla Music Festival lineup: The Roots, Spoon, Father John Misty and more

2018 Gasparilla Music Festival lineup: The Roots, Spoon, Father John Misty and more

Got your tickets to the Gasparilla Music Festival yet? No? You better hurry up, because after today's initial lineup announcement, they might go fast.Tonight Show house band the Roots and indie rock heroes Father John Misty and Spoon top the initial ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Latest forecast shows more misery ahead for ailing citrus industry

Latest forecast shows more misery ahead for ailing citrus industry

Florida agriculture leaders say the latest projected decline in citrus production underscores a dire need for federal disaster relief after Hurricane Irma.The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated Tuesday that Florida will grow enough oranges to f...
Updated: 4 hours ago
What’s in a name? A Pasco school considers its options

What’s in a name? A Pasco school considers its options

After more than 30 years in operation, Ridgewood High School in New Port Richey is crafting a new identity.But community leaders want to keep a bit of history for the place they still call the "Pride of Pasco," as it transitions from a trad...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Is Alex Colome telling us something about Rays’ plans with his Instagram account?

Is Alex Colome telling us something about Rays’ plans with his Instagram account?

UPDATE, 9:22: So, Colome says he was just using good social media manners, tweeting (at 4:15) this morning:"I keep getting nice messages and tags from those accounts, so I gave them a follow"And, keeping his emoji game strong, adding one with arms up...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Quinton Flowers’ top 10 plays at USF

Quinton Flowers’ top 10 plays at USF

Understandably, an anticlimactic vibe hovers over the Birmingham Bowl for many USF fans, who were hoping their season would end a bit farther east, at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.But one still can't ignore this game's historical context: It's the last ...
Updated: 5 minutes ago