published Friday, February 24th, 2012

Presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich visit Chattanooga

On the surface, Rick Santorum's visit here on Saturday and Newt Gingrich's appearance in Dalton, Ga. on Tuesday have the same principal goal. Each wants to win over voters before Tennessee and Georgia residents cast ballots in the March 6 "Super Tuesday' Republican presidential primaries. The candidates' secondary goals, however, are vastly different.

Santorum is operating from a position of strength. When he speaks at a Chattanooga Tea Party event at Abba's House, a church in Hixson, on Saturday, he'll do so as the front-runner in Tennessee and as a strong contender in Georgia. His goal will be to reassure those who already favor his candidacy of its validity and to woo others in the party to his side. Gingrich's task is far more difficult.

The former U.S. House speaker is in a decidedly vulnerable position. He's on shaky ground in Georgia and, like Ron Paul, is faring poorly in Tennessee. Moreover, Gingrich is on record as saying that if a presidential candidate can't carry his home state, there is little "rationale" for him to stay in the race.

Those words, directed specifically at Mitt Romney in Michigan, now apply to Gingrich in Georgia, where polls indicate that he has a statistically meaningless lead over Romney and Santorum. His appearance at the Northwest Georgia Trade & Convention Center and similar events scheduled at other state venues before March 6 are designed to re-energize his campaign. It is a do-or-die strategy.

He's on the record about the of importance home-state primaries, and even the glib Gingrich would have a hard time convincing fellow Republicans that there was a viable rationale for his continued candidacy if he falters in Georgia.

Whatever Santorum's and Gingrich's reasons for visiting here, their public appearances are a welcome adjunct to the current primary season. They provide an opportunity for everyone -- regardless of political affiliation, personal philosophy or station in life -- to see and to hear a candidate on the national stage in a local setting. That's something not available to a majority of those likely to cast ballots on March 6.

There is, at this writing, no firm program for either Santorum on Saturday or Gingrich on Tuesday. It's likely, though, that each will provide a standard spiel touting their experience and espousing policies they would promote if they were the party's eventual nominee and if they won the presidency in November. There might even be a verbal punch or two aimed at opposing candidates. Those are the sort of things to be expected at any carefully orchestrated event of this sort. What would be nice, though, is a bit of give-and-take between candidate and audience members.

Those who attend the rallies should have the chance to question the candidates. That's the democratic way. Besides, it would provide a chance to see how a would-be president performs in an unscripted situation and to glean insights that might help those present to decide if the candidate is worthy of a vote on March 6. Or not.

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gjuster said...

Glad to see both candidates come to Chatt - wish Mitt and Ron would swing by also. And I hope that the President honors us with a visit as well. As one of the speakers at the TP Forum, while proud that Rick Santorum will be our key note speaker - understand that it doesn't mean that the CTP endorses him. All have good and bad points - and it is up to the individual to make their own choice. I hope that each of you decides to attend the free event starting at 1 pm at ABBA's house

February 24, 2012 at 8:59 p.m.
acerigger said...

Newt's gonna be at the "chattahoochee choo-choo" Tuesday,only costs$1000.00 to get in. how sad.

February 25, 2012 at 1:04 a.m.
acerigger said...

On Tuesday, Gingrich will be in Chattanooga and sent out this invite, Gingrich Fundraising Invitation. It states: " You are cordially invited to a VIP Roundtable, in support of Newt Gingrich. Tuesday, February 28th 8am - 9am at the Chattahoochie Choo-Choo Hotel. Cost $1,000.

I know Gingrich thinks Tennessee is his, but he should know the name of this famous landmark. Fighting words, Newt.

February 25, 2012 at 1:08 a.m.
fairmon said...

It is good to have these candidates visit this area. It would be good if all candidates and the president made a stop in the Chattanooga area.

The young college age through middle age that are intelligent and involved that understand the constitution and the current state of the unions impact on their future will vote for Ron Paul. Those of us approaching or in our senior years will opt for the status qua by voting for the current president or one of the republican candidates. Most just listen to the media and don't bother to review Paul's position with an open and unbiased mind and reach their own conclusion which is impossible for the majority of voters. The tendency of many is to be a lemming and join the biggest mob once they identify it. The mob affect is called momentum by the media.

February 25, 2012 at 2:10 a.m.
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