In just less than a month, Georgia will pick a Republican candidate for President. The man viewed as the frontrunner, Mitt Romney, swung through Atlanta yesterday. His appearance came as he maintains his delegate lead and amid lingering questions about his campaign.
Hundreds of people stood inside the Bottega showroom in Midtown Atlanta cheering Romney as he walked to the stage. Bottega is a countertop and tile retailer. The owners told Romney business is getting better. But the former Massachusetts Governor said the economy in the peach state is still rotten.
“I understand in Georgia unemployment (is) about 9.9%,” said Romney.
The latest rate, according to Georgia’s labor department, was actually 9.7% in December. But, it’s still high enough for Romney to blame President Obama.
“I feel this President has let us down,” said Romney. “This country deserves to be able to provide good jobs to the American people who are willing to work.” “If I’m President, I’ll make that job one.”
From the economy to the health care law to the military, blaming Mr. Obama was a consistent theme through Romney’s speech. But, he did carve out some time to blast his top 2 rivals in the race for the Republican nomination: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Senator Rick Santorum.
“You’ve got other people running in this race who, likewise, have spent their entire life in politics,” said Romney. “Nothing wrong with that, except I think you need the experience of leadership and understand how the economy works in order to get America working again.”
Romney mentioned Ginrich once and Santorum twice.
“During Senator Santorum’s time in Washington, the government grew by 80% and he voted to raise the debt ceiling 5 times,” said Romney.
Romney’s Santorum slams come after the former Senator won all three states that held caucuses on Tuesday. While Romney did criticize his rivals, almost all of his 18 minute speech was targeted at President Obama. After the event, Joe Allvin from Hiram, said that was the right approach.
“I thought that was very good of him not to be going back again at them,” said Allvin.
Allvin was born a baptist. Now, the retired Army veteran is Mormon like Romney.
“I know what he stands for from that point,” said Allvin. “I know it’s not in his character to really have to go back at somebody unless he has to.”
Allvin admits Romney’s faith and Gingrich’s Georgia ties will make it hard for Romney to win Georgia’s primary and, most importantly, its 76 delegates. Especially, if independent voters like Atlanta paramedic Derek Davis are still on the fence.
“I may end up voting in the Republican primary,” said Davis. “So far, I haven’t heard any candidate that I support enough to put my name behind them.”
4 years ago, Romney finished a close third in Georgia. He and Ron Paul are the only candidates from Georgia’s last GOP Presidential primary who are once again on the ballot this year.