September 26th, 2007
04:00 PM ET
11 years ago

Why hasn't Romney caught on in South Carolina?

Watch the chairman of South Carolina's Republican Party discuss Mitt Romney and the other GOP presidential candidates.

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - In an interview with CNN about the leading Republican presidential candidates, South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson tried to explain why former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, despite investing serious resources here, is still trailing in state polls.

"You know, it's hard to tell," said Dawson. "Out there in the grassroots where we are, you have to introduce yourself, and he's had to introduce himself to South Carolina. There are other very well-known names ... [former New York City mayor] Rudy Giuliani is virtually known by the entire electorate in the Republican primary, where certainly Mitt Romney had zero name ID when he came in here. I mean nobody really knew who the governor of Massachusetts was and even the fact that he was a Republican."

Dawson compared Romney's low poll numbers to those of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who has also had to introduce himself to South Carolinians. But Dawson noted that Romney has spent significantly more than Huckabee.

Romney has a large state office in Columbia, has hired two of South Carolina's most well-known consultants - Terry Sullivan and Warren Tompkins - and he is the first Republican candidate to run television ads in the state. Still, Romney stands at about nine or 10 percent in recent polls.

Dawson said Romney still has some time to raise his profile. "There is a lot of room to grow when you're in single digits," he said.

Asked if a Southern candidate like Huckabee or former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson would have an advantage over someone like Romney or Giuliani, Dawson said such a factor would help but not determine the primary winner.

"I don't say a Southerner has a leg up," Dawson said. "Certainly they have unique characteristics that we understand here, and its great on the stump, and it makes you feel good, and it gives you somewhat of an advantage that you're from a southern state that understands the political culture here, but with that being said I think that our voters are more sophisticated than 'you're just from a neighboring state.'"

[For more campaign news from South Carolina, check out the South Carolina Political Ticker.]

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Iowa • Mitt Romney • New Hampshire • South Carolina
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Will - Miami, Fl

    What a goofy journalist. How can he write this story and ask the questions asked without referencing the Palmetto family straw poll conducted last week? I mean heck, that should be a good litmus test and answer some questions about who SC voters like. Huckabee won, Ron Paun 2nd, Thompson 3rd. Romney and McCain where competing for who would beat the last place (dirt-bag)Guiliani.

    Did I mention that Huckabee and Paul won by a BIG margin? Thompson (who came in third) only had 8% of the vote and Giuliani had a whopping 1%...

    What a hack this "journalist" is...

    September 26, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  2. Mike, Milwaukee, WI

    Hmmm lets see....South Carolina is a state with a large block of evangelical Christians voting in the GOP primary. Perhaps the fact that he is a MORMON doesn't sit too well with these voters. Just a thought.

    September 26, 2007 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  3. Shawnie Cannon, Grants Pass OR

    The straw poll isn't significant, which is why it wasn't mentioned. Romney didn't expect to take South Carolina and Mike from WI already said why.

    September 26, 2007 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  4. Bubba, Swainsboro GA

    Dawson is not serving his party very well.

    September 26, 2007 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  5. Will - Miami, Fl

    Yea, I notice that this election cycle, all of the suddon, the straw polls are insignifigant unlike prior elections where the straw polls were heavily focused on.

    Ever ask yourself why that is? I think it's a sign that the parties (both of them) are blatantly telling us that they simply don't care who we (the voters) want to be our next President. They are making it clear that one of the "front runners" WILL be the next President. It's getting to the point where there's little reason for us to bother voting in the REAL poll. Think about it...

    September 26, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  6. Dan, TX

    I'm not so the Evangelicals will be voting as a block for the Republicans .... The republicans better get out there and explain how they are better than the democrats in representing them.

    September 26, 2007 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  7. ronnie - knoxville, tn.

    ..because South Carolina people don't have minds open enough to accept a candidate who isn't Christian (or for you libs out there, Athiest.)

    September 26, 2007 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  8. Santo J., Dallas, Tx.

    methinks Thompson's brand of hell-fire Republican hard line thinkin' will go over well in S. Carolina

    September 26, 2007 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  9. Tom Dedham, Mass

    After he wins Iowa and NH, everyone will know his name.

    How about those funny pajamas guys and the 10 wives.


    September 26, 2007 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  10. jlw,

    How can you bigoted person think that Romney is not a Christian? He belongs to the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" They have a Statue of Jesus Christ on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. What is not christian about that. Come on and open up your eyes and see, has hatred and bigotry blinded you.

    September 26, 2007 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  11. Wade- Appleton, WI

    The American banking system and it's pagan leadership owns the political system in this country. What they can't control, the internet, scares them. If you notice the UNDERGROUND polling conducted weekly on the internet you will find that RON PAUL wins consistantly by an 80-90% margin. These are people 18-45yrs of age, not the elderly who are called at home for these bogus polls you see and hear about on the banker controlled TV networks. A lot of people are in for a rude awakening. Let the banking establishment eat crow.

    September 26, 2007 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  12. Allen, Redlands CA

    These bigots in SC can't see past thier own skin. (Bush vs McCain 2000)How do you expect them to see past their sorry little state.

    September 26, 2007 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  13. FT Ottsville, Pa

    well ...we don't trust him on Immigration,he's BIG business, open borders,his people are Bush's people. I think he would be more of the same. He says what he needs to be elected. Like Hillary does. Still Looking for the Right Man!!!

    September 27, 2007 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  14. General Lee

    too much thought spent on why...., known new england yankee in the south. Some things never change.

    September 27, 2007 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  15. Terry, El Paso, TX

    Maybe Romney isn't catching on because people don't think he would make a good president. To me, he seems to be shallow and unimaginative, to put it kindly. I can imagine 4 more years of drifting with no one at the nation's rudder. He would boldly propose that we not really change anything because it would make some large constituency angry.

    However, those who want a president with high moral values should consider the fact that Romney and Clinton are probably the only two candidates who have been faithful to one spouse and who have not enjoyed the services of a hooker.

    September 27, 2007 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  16. Dan, Greensboro, NC

    Mike hit it on the head earlier. Romney does not expect to win when there are so many close minded evangelicals voting in SC. I live in NC so I know it's about the same here.

    September 27, 2007 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  17. Kevin, Cleveland, OH

    ok Ronnie, you're showing yourself to be a bigot with the snide remark that Romney is not Christian. that seems like something the backwards evangelicals would toss out there. The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints is Christian. to say it's not opens it up to say that all the others aren't Christian. who decides who is Christian. Romney's church is named after christ and teaches of the same Christ my church does in the New Testament. Romney won't win with all the bigotry in our country. It looks to be more like Rudy vs Fred. wish Ron Paul would get more screen time CNN!

    September 27, 2007 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  18. Chris, Middletown, CT

    Well..Hillary did...just second hand

    September 27, 2007 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |