Gingrich picks up support in Ohio

December 27, 2011

By Dan Sewell-Associated Press

WEST CHESTER, Ohio — For “Anybody butRomney” Republicans in a key conservative region of Ohio, Newt Gingrich has been picking up support as an alternative to the former Massachusetts governor.

The former House speaker has moved to the top in recent polling in Ohio, just as Republican presidential candidates prepare for the Jan. 3 caucuses in Iowa, followed closely by the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries.

Ohio’s presidential primary is scheduled for March 6, one of the biggest prizes for Republicans among about a dozen states voting on “Super Tuesday.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney hasn’t excited some of the party’s staunchest conservatives for reasons that include his past pro-choice stance and his enactment of a Massachusetts health-care plan that’s often compared to President Obama’s new national law.

Some conservatives had flirted with supporting Herman Cain, drawn to his business background and unconventional campaign style. But Mr. Cainsuspended his campaign this month following accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior and a longtime extramarital affair. Mr. Cain’s decision andMr. Gingrich’s performance in nationally televised debates helped some make up their minds.

“He’s sold me,” said Dan Keith, 61, of Hamilton. Keith and his wife, Pat, said they are convinced that Mr. Gingrich has the experience and savvy to be strong against Mr. Obama. “I can’t see anybody else coming onto the scene that we would go to.”

The Keiths said they were undecided when first interviewed three months ago.

“I think before, people liked the other candidates because they were an alternative to Romney. But I’m hearing more people who like Gingrich as Gingrich,” said Bill Langdon, co-owner of the Grand Ole Pub, a popular gathering spot for Republican partisans in West Chester.

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