Large crowd of Nobles County Republicans gathersWORTHINGTON — While Don Groninga touted Rick Santorum Tuesday night at the Nobles County Republicans’ caucus event, his preferred candidate was beginning to build an early lead in straw poll results across Minnesota.
By: Ryan McGaughey, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — While Don Groninga touted Rick Santorum Tuesday night at the Nobles County Republicans’ caucus event, his preferred candidate was beginning to build an early lead in straw poll results across Minnesota.
Groninga, of Worthington, spoke for about five minutes on behalf of the former Pennsylvania senator, who midway through the evening appeared to be surging to a statewide victory over fellow GOP presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. The last of three individuals to stand behind the podium inside the WHS cafeteria, Groninga gave a forceful characterization of Santorum.
“We don’t need to compromise, folks,” Groninga told a room filled with at least 200 people. “What we need is a warrior.”
Groninga made reference during his remarks to second U.S. President John Adams “who said our Constitution was made only for moral and religious people.” Santorum, in turn, embodies the type of morality and faith that would best lead the nation.
“He’s described as the tea party candidate before there was a tea party,” said Groninga, citing Santorum’s efforts to end partial-birth abortion among his conservative triumphs. “Rick Santorum hasn’t just fought — he has fought and won.”
Going into Tuesday night, Santorum hadn’t won a caucus or primary event since his surprise win in Iowa on Jan. 3. In the meantime, momentum has flipped back and forth primarily between Romney, generally recognized as the national front-runner for Republican nomination, and Gingrich.
Kammi VanderZiel of Leota Township urged Nobles County Republicans to support Romney on Tuesday. She pointed out that the former Massachusetts governor has been successful in every endeavor he has undertaken — in both business and government.
“When he led the state of Massachusetts, he cut taxes 19 times,” VanderZiel said.
“On Day 1, he will give a waiver to all 50 states to get out of Obamacare,” she added. “I trust Mitt Romney, and I know he shares my values.”
Romney, “rather than put faith in government, he’ll put faith in American workers … and the American people,” VanderZiel concluded.
Also speaking Tuesday night was Ben Spambauer, who had been stationed in St. Paul as part of the Aviation Brigade prior to a recent move to Adrian. Spambauer spoke on behalf of Paul, citing the candidate’s promise to not commit troops to unnecessary wars, “where they’re dying for oil, dying for corporations,” said Spambauer.
“If you really care about your neighbors that die for this country, then support someone who is going to bring them back home,” Spambauer added.
No one in attendance spoke on behalf for Gingrich.
The Nobles County caucus event was convened by county GOP chair Paul Langseth, who explained to the substantial crowd the procedure and agenda for the evening. Precinct officers were also elected and party platforms and delegates chosen, among other business, but the biggest ticket item on the night was the presidential straw poll.
“We ask for you to be respectful. We all have different points of view, but we’re all on the same team,” Langseth said.
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor caucuses for Nobles County also took place Tuesday night inside the cafeteria at Prairie Elementary. Business items similar to those of the Republicans were scheduled, as well as a presidential preference ballot — likely an exercise that was markedly different than what was taking place across town.