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Louisiana primary: Conservatives remain skeptical of Mitt Romney

March 24, 2012|By Alana Semuels
  • A campaign worker staples a placard to a post before a campaign event for Mitt Romney in Shreveport, La., on Friday.
A campaign worker staples a placard to a post before a campaign event for… (Steven Senne / Associated…)

Reporting from Shreveport, La. —

There are many things that need to be done on a Saturday. Take the car in to be fixed. Watch the kid play soccer. And, if you live in Louisiana, go vote for who you want to become president.

A sojourn at some polls here, though, indicated that many people had more important things to do on Saturday than vote.

In a lush field next to a polling station, Michael Nash, 38, was watching his young son swing at a ball on a T-ball stand. He was planning to vote, sure, but he wanted to spend some time with his family first.

"This is what we stand for – good old conservative values," he said as his father-in-law ran after a bat-wielding grandson and mothers and fathers in camping chairs cheered their sons and daughters at T-ball practice. "This is what we’re talking about. If we returned to family values, this economic situation would be stronger."

Nash plans to vote for Rick Santorum later Saturday, even though he knows Santorum has little chance of winning the nomination. But he says it’s still important for him to vote his conscience.

"It is important for America to understand that we are conservative people," he said. "We Republicans have to prove our point, let everyone know what we stand for."

Shreveport, more Texas than Louisiana, is a conservative region of a conservative state, but one with only eight electoral college votes (it lost one in the last census). Although Santorum is expected to win the state Saturday because of voters such as Nash, few expect his victory to stop Mitt Romney from becoming the eventual nominee.

That’s OK, Nash said.

"Before Mitt shakes up his Etch-A-Sketch again for November, he needs to know he needs to represent conservatives like us," he said.

His brother, Brian Nash, sat in a camping chair next to him as his sons and cousins ran aimlessly around the field, gloves in hand, and one child swung repeatedly at the ball, never quite connecting.

He’s a Santorum supporter, too, he said, shifting his feet in the long, damp grass dotted with clover.

"I hope Santorum has a chance. He’s an honest man, rather than a slimy businessman," he said. "Romney is too liberal in his politics."

"He’s a socialist," his brother butted in.

Jared Barber, 20, who was wearing a straw hat and tending to the baseball fields, said he'd write in Jesus before he'd vote for Mitt Romney in the general election.

"Christian values are my thing," Barber said. "Romney’s a Mormon. That’s a drawback."

Santorum visited Barber’s church last weekend, and Barber said he liked the candidate’s way of speaking, and his topic: abortion. He said he hoped Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul would drop out soon to give Santorum more of a chance.

Just about the only Romney supporter watching baseball in the fields next to the polls was Marsha Parchman, 46, a nurse. She wasn’t sure what she liked about Romney, although she planned to vote for him.

"I like him better," she said. "I don’t know why."

Back at the polls, a lone car pulled up. Melvin Prothro got out, on his way in to vote for Santorum. It was a busy day, he said. He had to take his lawnmower to the lawnmower hospital, pour some concrete, and puzzle over Obama’s nomination to the World Bank, whose name, he said, sounded curiously like that of the North Korean dictator. He still had time to vote for Santorum, though.

"I like his philosophies," he said. "The things he’s said he’s going to do."

Original source: Louisiana primary: Conservatives remain skeptical of Mitt Romney

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