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Local eyes, ears tuned into ’12 campaign

August 24, 2011
By Evan Bevins - The Marietta Times ( , The Marietta Times

As nine candidates jockey for position in the race to face President Barack Obama in the 2012 election, some Valley residents are starting to take notice.

"I listen to NPR and I am following the Republican race with moderate interest," said Claire Knolle, 51, of Marietta. "My hope would be for a Perry-Bachmann ticket."

With his entry into the race last week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry generated a lot of buzz, while third-term Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota won the recent Iowa straw poll and is considered one of the frontrunners, along with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Six other candidates have announced their intention to seek the GOP nomination, and a seventh - former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty - has already thrown in the towel. Then there's former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the party's vice presidential nominee in 2008, who still hasn't said whether she's running or not.

Knolle conceded that even though she's interested, the current campaigning seems a bit premature.

"I don't want to hear about it for the next 15 months," she said.

It won't take 15 months for Marietta resident Dan Rolfsen, 34, to decide who he's supporting: It's libertarian-leaning Texas Congressman Ron Paul all the way.

"I liked him last election. Media doesn't give him any attention. We pay attention to him quite a bit," Rolfsen said.

Paul's positions on fiscal responsibility, pulling out of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and abolishing the Federal Reserve appeal to Rolfsen.

"I think he's more concerned about our country than any of the other candidates out there," he said.

Other voters say it's too early to make a decision. For some, it's too early to even start thinking about it.

Parkersburg resident Vanessa Baker, 24, said she's not very political and is busy with her children and her job.

"When it gets closer and you have the two nominees, that's when I actually start paying attention," she said.

Marietta resident Jasmine Comstock, 18, will be voting in her first presidential election next year. She said she's heard some of the candidates on TV but expects to learn more as the election draws closer.

"I forget (the name of) the guy I was listening to last night," she laughed.

Jim Fleeman, 59, of Bethel Township in Monroe County, said he's keeping an eye on the early campaigning but he won't get to weigh in on the Republican nominee. He's an independent and said he won't vote in the GOP primary, which would affiliate him with the party.

Still, Fleeman said he hopes the nominee will be a stronger candidate than he felt John McCain was in 2008.

"I can't imagine in my wildest dreams that I would vote for Obama," he said. "He either doesn't know what he's doing or he does and he's doing the exact opposite of all my values."

Fleeman said he's not really surprised the campaign is already underway, given the circumstances in the country, such as the recent battle over raising the nation's borrowing limit. He also thinks the country is going too far to the left on social issues, like abortion, he said.

Obama's approval rating was just 41 percent in a recent Zogby poll and 54 percent of those surveyed said it's time for someone new to enter the White House.

But Republicans aren't necessarily winning favor either. The poll indicated 69 percent of respondents disapproved of Obama's handling of the debt ceiling issue, with 74 percent disapproving of Congressional Republicans' performance as well.

Harold Cartwright, an Akron-area resident who spends the summer camping at the Landings Family Campground near Reno, said he supported Obama in 2008 but may not this time around. He thinks a challenger could emerge from the Democratic Party or as an independent but so far, he's not sold on any of the GOP hopefuls.

"I haven't seen any Republican impress me that's not for multimillionaires," he said.

Cartwright, who is retired, said the country can't continue to fight two wars and give tax breaks, which means social programs will have to be cut. He doesn't think that's right, especially with the country continuing to provide foreign aid to countries like China and Pakistan.



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