Romney Supporters Say Florida Strengthened the Candidate
|Sarah Partin, a University of South Florida St. Pete student and Romney supporter.|
The Florida primary, as rough and tumble as it got, made Mitt Romney a better candidate, according to Romney. His supporters agree and believe winning in such a large diverse state shows that the former Massachusetts governor can attract a broad base of voters, including moderates and conservatives.
Romney drew a cross-section of supporters to his election night celebration at Tampa’s Convention Center. The victory party had Sarah Partin, a University of South Florida St. Pete student, considering volunteering for the campaign.
“It was fun to be around it and people who feel the same way,” Partin said.
The petite blonde coed was still wearing her “I Voted” sticker. She said she saw a lot of young people at the event and speculated that the younger candidates tend to invigorate the youth vote.
One of the people who helped Romney achieve the Florida win is Bill Kilberg of Virginia. He was headed up to a private gathering on the top floor of the convention center after the public event.
Kilberg is on Romney’s national finance committee and came down to Florida to be a part of the celebration. He was excited that Romney won more than 50 percent of the Hispanic vote but believes their biggest victory was the I-4 corridor.
“That’s an area of the state we have a lot of independents, Democrats, Republicans fairly evenly balanced,” Kilberg said. “It tells you a lot. If we can win there, we can win elsewhere in the country.”
He credits the campaign’s organization and focus on early voting and absentees for the win as well as Romney’s debate performances.
The Romney campaign also was successful lining up support from many of the state‘s Republican office holders such as Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, CFO Jeff Atwater, future Florida Speaker of the House Rep. Will Weatherford, Senate Pres. Mike Haridopolos and Attorney General Pam Bondi.
However, former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum campaigned for Newt Gingrich. Bondi said they’re old friends having spent time together in congress. She said there’s no danger of the presidential race splitting the Florida GOP.
“We’re not going to let that happen to us. We’re not divisive and we get along,” Bondi said. “No matter who our nominee is we’re going to rally behind him. We’re hoping of course it will be Mitt Romney.”
Romney’s supporters certainly rallied behind him at the voting booth and at his victory celebration where Abraham Bendoski, 19, was first in line with his parents to get into the ballroom for the celebration. They drove more than two hours from Sanford to be a part of Romney’s victory.
“I liked his principles and his standards. I like what he believed in. I like that he’s been married for like 42 years,” Bendoski said. “He has great standards in his church and his belief in his country how he wants to bring it back.”
Bendoski is currently doing volunteer work. He’s a Mormon and preparing to go on a mission for his church, but said he will make sure he gets to vote in November.
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