NEITHER ROMNEY NOR MCCAIN HAVE SEALED DEAL
Many Republican leaders around the Ozarks remain undecided about which candidate to vote for just hours before Tuesday's Missouri primary, according to a KY3 Political Notebook survey.
A series of interviews with party activists and G.O.P. county chairs around the Ozarks found a significant amount of Republican leaders still shifting between the remaining three viable candidates to nominate.
"Obviously it's down to a 2-man race," said Barry County chair David Cole, referring to Mitt Romney and John McCain. "But I haven't decided yet."
While some are still sorting through candidate characteristics and sifting through issues, others are searching for a new candidate to support after their favorite pick dropped out.
Springfield Committeewoman Leigh Anne Garren was a Rudy Giuliani supporter. Now she said she is "going back and forth" between Romney and McCain. "I just don't know," she said. "I was so thrown off when Rudy got out," she added. As for Giuliani's endorsement of McCain, Garren said it won't have an impact on her ultimate decision.
Lawrence County Chair Sherri George is also trying to decide between Romney and McCain. She said she's finding many Lawrence County Republicans are still undecided. "I'm still just as confused as the first day," George said, with a laugh.
"I want a businessman, which Mitt Romney brings. But I like the good characteristics of John McCain, and his history," she said.
"I'm not 100% even now," said Christian County chair Ed Merritt. Merritt said he likes McCain on defense, Romney on fiscal issues and Mike Huckabee on social issues, but is still "trying to find the one who has more than one thing."
Cedar County Chair Barbara Bobbett said she leaned towards Mitt Romney months ago, but no longer. "I like him when he started out," said Bobbett about Romney. "The more I see him, the less I like him," she added.
So now, Bobbett has narrowed it down between McCain and Huckabee. "There's a lot of apathy out there," Bobbett said of Republicans she has talked with. "I just don't look for us to have a huge turnout Tuesday."
Stone County Chair Thomas Martin, who also pins himself as undecided, said his Republican committee is split. "I think this has been a very unique year for Republicans," Martin said. "None of them have stepped out and taken a commanding lead."
The survey revealed that the electability argument may be hurting Huckabee late in the game. Several party people ruled out voting for Huckabee just because they don't think he can win.
"I don't know if Huckabee is electable. He is probably not going to be one of the ones I vote for. The other two, I think can win the presidency." Merritt said.
Don't tell that to Dallas County Chair Charles Matthews. "Huckabee has the good conservative values this country needs. He's my man," Matthews said. But even he admits his man is a longshot. "He's got a shot, it's not a good shot," he added. When asked if he bought into the argument that a vote for Huckabee is a wasted vote or a vote for McCain, Matthews replied, "It might be, but I'm sticking with Huck."
So with no clear favorite, some are turning to strategy to help make up their minds. "I'm trying to decide who the Democratic candidate is going to be -- and then decide who can beat that," George said.
Merritt said the best thing to happen to Republicans is if the Democrats nominate Senator Hillary Clinton. "If Hillary wins, she will be the uniter for the Republican party," Merritt said.