Georgia voters share their thoughts on Super Tuesday

Voters cast their ballots at the Sarah Smith Elementary School in Atlanta's North Buckhead area Tuesday, March 6, 2012. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is banking on a big win Tuesday in Georgia to keep his fading hopes of winning the nomination alive. (AP Photo/Robert Ray)

By The Associated Press

Here’s a roundup of what some Georgia voters had to say on Super Tuesday as they cast their ballots in the GOP presidential primary:

Lori Thompson of Sharpsburg moved to Georgia from Alabama 17 years ago to take a job as an elementary school teacher. In recent years, she has seen many of her colleagues lose their jobs, the result of budget cuts in a down economy.

The recession hit even closer to home when her husband was out of work for two months after losing his banking job in 2008. He now works for the federal government.

Thompson said she cast her ballot for Newt Gingrich because she believes he shares her values and principles, and can get the economy back on track.

“There are people who are skilled and hardworking and want to have jobs, and they just can’t get them,” said the 39-year-old mother of two. “Newt’s going to be able to help stimulate the economy. He has a solid plan for doing that. I believe that he is positioned to lead this country and turn around our economic situation.”

She does not feel the same about Mitt Romney, whom she described as “disconnected from mainstream America.”

“His wife can say it as much as she wants to, but they are extremely wealthy,” Thompson said, referring to Ann Romney’s recent comment that she doesn’t consider herself wealthy. “He really doesn’t have a good sense of what middle America wants.”

Charles Duvall, 23, of Atlanta said he voted for Romney because he supported the tax policies of the former Massachusetts governor. He also said Romney is the most electable candidate.

Duvall works in the financial industry and said his clients are deeply concerned about tax rates.

“I feel like he’s got the best chance of all the candidates,” said Duvall, who spoke just after leaving a polling station in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood.

Gail and Pope Jones, both 62, voted for Gingrich at a polling place in Buckhead, saying Gingrich’s years in Congress would help him.

“I think he’s extremely intelligent,” said Gail Jones, a preschool teacher. “He’s had a lot of experience in Washington before.”

Her husband, Pope Jones, said he likes what he described as Gingrich’s candor on the campaign trail. He had a dim view of the economic trajectory of the country.

“In my opinion, most Democrats and Republicans are very similar,” he said. “I don’t think Gingrich will be similar.”

He had doubts about whether Gingrich could be nominated, although he said Gingrich could beat Obama in November. Pope Jones called the economy “the only issue” in the election and blamed Congress for wasteful spending.

“He says what he believes,” Pope Jones said. “It’s probably one of the reasons he won’t get elected.”

In Hall County, 66-year-old Harry Gambill said he paused outside his precinct in Murrayville for a few minutes to talk himself into voting for Gingrich.

“I don’t think he can win,” said Gambill, who retired as CEO of Chicago-based TransUnion, a credit reporting company, four years ago and moved to north Georgia.

Gingrich represented Georgia in Congress for more than two decades and is expected to carry the state, but Gambill said he wishes he could blend Gingrich and Romney to create the ideal candidate. He said he likes Romney’s economic savvy and Gingrich’s “raw intelligence.”

“Blend them together you’d have the perfect candidate,” Gambill said. “I think Newt is much more charismatic. Romney seems unable to close the deal. His charisma is lacking.”

Gambill said he thinks Romney will win the GOP nomination.

He said his biggest issue is the economy. He said the country is taking on too much debt while over-regulating businesses and banks and providing welfare for too many people who have become dependent on the government for help.

“I believe the current administration are looters, wanting to take away from most productive members of society and give to the least,” Gambill said. “In general, we’re becoming more and more socialistic and less and less entrepreneurial.”

Tammara Butler says she’s not a one-issue voter and cares as much about issues like the economy, jobs and gas prices as she does about where candidates stand on abortion.

“I’m a woman, and I’m tired of men making those decisions,” said Butler, who ran a chiropractic business during the 1990s before becoming a homemaker. “I’m tired of the dirty politics. I just want the facts.”

Butler, who grew up a Navy brat and lives in Macon, said she voted for Gingrich, whom she says has the plans and experience to beat President Barack Obama.

“I feel like he’s been in government before and knows how to work with the various players,” Butler said. “He understands international policy. With everything that has gone down the last four years, we need someone who can help America get our pride and our dignity back. The world doesn’t take us seriously anymore.”

Butler said she wants to see more of a focus on the issues, and less attention paid to candidates’ personal lives. For her, Gingrich’s infidelities are old news.

“I know he has a past, but who amongst us doesn’t?” Butler said. “Let he who is without a past cast the first stone. I think that the media isn’t telling all sides of the story for all parties. They’re bringing up things from everybody’s past instead of the issues that are most important to Americans.”

Robert Buckner, 37, backed GOP contender Herman Cain, also from Georgia, before the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO dropped out of the race in December. Cain quickly threw his support behind Gingrich, and Buckner said that was enough for him to cast his ballot for the former House speaker.

Buckner, a property manager for the Marietta Housing Authority, said he likes Gingrich’s stance on immigration and believes he will help turn around the nation’s economy. But he said Gingrich doesn’t have the “silver tongue” of Romney.

“Newt is not going to conform, and I admire that whether he wins or loses — somebody who sticks to their guns,” said Buckner, who grew up in Marietta and said he never wants to live anywhere else.

But he admitted he’s disappointed with the GOP candidates this year.

“I would hope that the strength of the candidates would be a lot more,” said Buckner. “If we could take Newt and Mitt Romney and put them together, put Romney’s tongue in Newt’s mouth, we’d be great.

Associated Press writers Dorie Turner in Marietta, Errin Haines in Atlanta and Ray Henry in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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