As GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney prepares to pick his runningmate in a matter of weeks — if not days — South Carolina Republicans say Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is the right choice.
In another in a series of our Red Palmetto surveys, where Patch asks nearly 100 influential conservatives in South Carolina their opinion of political matters, 56 responded in a short survey week.
Of those who responded, 28.6 percent said Romney should pick Rubio. And 31.5 percent predict Romney will indeed pick Rubio.
"Romney needs to generate some excitement with his choice," said one respondent.
Running a close second is former Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice. Twenty-five percent said Romney should pick Rice, while 18.5 percent believe he will.
The other choices South Carolina conservatives believe Romney should consider were: Rep. Paul Ryan (10.7 percent), Gov. Tim Pawlenty (5.4 percent), and Sens. Rob Portman and Rand Paul, Gov. Bobby Jindal, Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Rep. Allen West (each with 3.6 percent).
One thing is for certain: South Carolina conservatives believe the choice is an important one.
"This is the first test of his candidacy," one said. "Will he be deaf to the cries of the Conservative base, in order to choose someone deemed to be a "safer" choice? If he does this, it will not bode well for his election chances. Are you listening, Mr Romney?"
"This could be the most important decision of the campaign if he does not get it right," said another.
"This could make or break his chances," said a third.
When conservatives were asked to share the most-important attribute of the VP nominee, responses were diverse. But several themes did emerge.
About 18 percent said the most-important attribute is the person's ability to take over the role as President — either in case of emergency, following Romney or in future elections.
Nearly 20 percent of those who answered the open-ended question mentioned the "Republican base" or "conservative" in their response.
But the single-biggest theme that emerged, which was mentioned by 22 percent of those who answered the question, was that the vice presidential choice should have "voter appeal," be "vote getting" or rate high in "likability."
The Red Palmetto Survey
Our surveys are not a scientific random sample of any larger population but rather an effort to listen to a swath of influential local Republican activists, party leaders and elected officials in South Carolina. All of these individuals have agreed to participate in the surveys, although not all responded to this week's questions. Surveys were conducted between July 16 and June 19, 2012.
Patch will be conducting Red Palmetto and Blue Palmetto surveys throughout 2012 in hopes of determining the true sentiment of conservatives and liberals on the ground in South Carolina.If you are an activist, party leader or elected official and would like to take part in a weekly surveys that lasts just a few minutes, please email Regional Editor Chris Winston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Red Palmetto Roster: Aubry Alexander (Charleston City Council-District 9), Thomas Alexander (State Senator), Dean Allen (Tea Party Activist), Charm Altman (President Sea Island Republican Women), Todd Atwater (S.C. Rep. Dist. 87), Preston Baines (conservative activist), Rep. Nathan Ballentine (SC House Dist. 71), Bill Banning, Sr. (Vice-chair, Lexington County Council), Bob Barnwell (Richland Co. GOP Spring Valley), Joseph Bates, Jr. (Committeeman/ Richland Co. GOP Dutch Fork), Gresham Barrett (Former U.S. Congressman, current consultant), Eric Bedingfield (State Rep/Congressional Staffer), Rick Beltram (Former Spartanburg GOP Chair), Lin Bennett (Chair, Charleston County GOP), Rich Bolen (Chair, Lexington County GOP), Andrew Boucher (Business consultant and political advisor), Phillip Bowers (Chairman, Pickens County Republican Party), Dan Bracken (President, The Auction Co. & Real Estate Inc.), Edward Britt (Engineer), Joe Bustos (Former town councilman), Jay Byars (Dorchester County councilman), Bob Call (Berkeley County Councilman), Tim Callanan (Berkeley County GOP Chairman), Earl Capps (Blogger), Ed Carter (Small business owner), Erica Christian (Chairwoman of Young Upstate Republicans) Ben Coakley (Investment adviser), Edward Cousar (Executive Director, Black Republican PAC), M. Todd Cullum (Lexington County Council member), Rep. Joe Daning (Statehouse rep.), Patrick Donlon (Chair, Northern District, Lexington County Republican County), Dana Eiser (Lowcountry 9.12 president), Linda Eiser (9/12 conservative), Scott Farmer (Richland County GOP Committeeman), Chip Felkel (Political Consultant), Will Folks (Editor, fitsnews.com; spokesman for former Gov. Mark Sanford), Leland Glen (Author), Chris Godbey (Political Consultant), Susan Grady (Republican activist), Randy Halfacre (Mayor of Lexington), Dan Hamilton (State Representative), Larry Hargett (Dorchester County Council chairman), Gaye Holt (4th District Director for the SC Federation of Republican Women), Kathy Hughes (President of Mt. Pleasant 912), Val Hutchinson (Richland County Council), Johnny Jeffcoat (Town of Lexington Economic and Community Catalyst; Lexington County Council member), Debbie Jones (9.12 Board Member), Joanne Jones (Republican activist), Grayson Kelly (Fundraiser), James Kinard (Banker, Chair, Lexington County Council), Todd Kincannon (Lawyer/former executive director of SC Republican Party), Bob Kouvolo (President/ MaxPt), Jim Lee (S.C. Senate candidate), Mickey Lindler (Chairwoman for Republicans of Lexington and Richland Counties), Chris Mann (City Councilman), Karen Martin (Organizer/Spartanburg Tea Party), Larry Martin (State Senator), Taft Matney (Conservative Political Consultant), James Metts (Lexington County Sheriff), Matt Moore (Executive Director for SC GOP), Susan Morris (Nonprofit executive director), Mike Murphee (Charleston Tea Party chairman), Deborah Myers (Political activist), Brent Nelsen (Professor of Political Science/former candidate for Supt. of Education), Don Nye (Bank employee), Allen Olson (Former Chairman of Columbia TEA Party), Walt Owens (University Professor), Randy Page (President,South Carolinians for Responsible Government), Gregory Pearce (Richland Co. Councilman), Kathy Perry (Charleston County Republican Women), Adam Piper (SC GOP 3rd Vice Chairman & political director for Huntsman campaign), Zach Pippin (GOP Media Consultant), Barbara Pulicicchio (Political activist), Rick Quinn (S.C. Rep. Dist. 69), Jeff Reuer (Vice Chair Goose Creek 9-12), DeLinda Ridings (SC GOP State Secretary/Huntsman campaign), Robby Robbins (Lawyer), Emily Rudolph (Sea Island Republican Women), LaDonna Ryggs (Spartanburg GOP Chair), Michael Sally (Hanahan City Councilman), Dennis Saylor (Chair, Aiken GOP), Lanneau Siegling (State Executive Committeeman), Billy Simons (Conservative activist), Garry Smith (State Rep), John Steinberger (Fair Tax activist), Alex Stroman (SCGOP Political Director), Shell Suber (VP for Public Affairs and Business Development at The Felkel Group, a political public relations company), Mary Ann Taylor (Charleston County Republican Women/Charleston County School Board), Hope Walker (Member Services Director, SCGOP), September Wellborn (State GOP Delegate), Jennifer Willis (County Councilwoman/ V.P. One Tree Hill), Henry Wilson (conservative political activist), Kerry Wood (Consultant, former SC Campaign manager for Rick Santorum) Cheryl Woods-Flowers (Former mayor, Republican official), James David Woodard (Professor of Political Science, Clemson University).