UA political groups adjust to RomneyBy Rich Robinson | 04/23/2012 11:10pm
With Mitt Romney as the presumptive Republican nominee, the 2012 presidential election seems to be ready for primetime. And despite the fact that Romney has yet to officially clinch the nomination, the general election has begun in earnest for many University of Alabama students.
With the backdrop of a CBS News/New York Times poll that showed President Barack Obama and Romney with 46 percent each nationwide, student involvement will be very important to the outcome of the election.
Regan Williams, the chairman of the UA College Republicans, is a Romney supporter despite his opposition to the former Governor’s health care initiative in Massachusetts that imposed an individual mandate on health care insurance for residents of the state.
“At the end of the day, I believe that he will be a good candidate,” Williams said. “I do not support his old health care, but it’s not the same as ObamaCare. Any kind of health care is better than that.”
“ObamaCare” is the controversial nickname for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s health care reform measure. The law calls for a major overhaul of the private health insurance industry and calls for an individual mandate similar to what Romney supported in Massachusetts. The law is currently under review from the Supreme Court, and a decision is expected before the election.
Williams said that Romney is more moderate, and that’s what the Republican Party needs right now.
“We don’t need a hyper-conservative Sarah Palin,” Williams said
While he supports Romney now, that was not always the case. Williams worked on the Pawlenty, Perry and Gingrich campaign before giving his support to Romney.
Williams also said he understands the concern that many Republicans have about Romney’s perceived flip-flopping on issues and previous pro-choice stance.
“But my response to that is what people constantly forget,” Williams said. “Ronald Reagan was a Democrat before he was a Republican. People change their minds, its just part of human nature.”
Stephanie Petelos, vice chair of the College Republicans, said Romney is the only candidate that could beat Obama.
“I don’t like to just vote against something, I like to vote for something, and he has the experience and ethical values to run the country,” said Petelos of Romney.
Caitlin Connors, the current secretary of College Republicans, will be a delegate for Romney at the Republican convention in Tampa.
Connors beat out her father, former state party chairman Marty Connors, to serve as a delegate to the convention. She said her victory was due to her position on the ballot, which was higher than her father’s thanks to her first name and her gender.
“He thought it might be fun for me to run against him, and at the time, it was a joke, but I did ended up beating him,” Connors said.
Connors has been a Romney supporter since his first run for President during the 2008 election. She credits his business background as the reason for her support.
“He is a businessman, so he has experience making a business work, which on a larger scale is our economy,” Connors said. “If you have that kind of experience, then it’s a good thing and gives you a one up.”
Cody Jones, the outgoing chairman of the UA Democrats, believes Obama does not stand much of a chance in Alabama. Jones will not even be voting for him due to what Jones perceives as a lack of support the White House has for the state party.
“Although, I can’t bring myself to vote for him, I can bring myself to send him some great people from the state of Alabama both in Congress and in state and local governments,” Jones said. He will also be writing in a Democrat for president, possibly Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Robert Christl is the incoming chairman of the UA Democrats and strongly supports Obama for reelection.
“I think he’s tried really hard to reach out to Republicans, and their lack of enthusiasm about any of his proposals is entirely from a political perspective,” Christl said.
Christl agreed with Jones that Obama would probably not win the state of Alabama but said the UA Democrats would be working to elect Democrats in down ballot races like Congressional elections.
Director of External Affairs for the UA Democrats Connor Cook also supports Obama and is not a big fan of Romney.
“I don’t like Mitt Romney just because of the fact that he thinks that the people voting in this election are more ignorant than they are,” Cook said. “If you look at some of the things that he says in public, they are just damnable with a little bit of research. I just don’t believe anything Mitt says.”