Summerville, South Carolina—The surest sign of Rick Perry’s anemic support in South Carolina is how incredibly low key his appearances have been. Whereas Mitt Romney drops in for rallies, and Rick Santorum holds town halls, Perry contents himself with small towns and smaller restaurants. Today, he held a “main street walk," which is exactly what it sounds like: He walks down the (usually quaint) main street of a (similarly quaint) town, speaking to voters and posing for photographs.
Texas Governor Rick Perry talks to voters in Summerville, South Carolina.
At no point does he speak or address the crowd; he simply walks for a block, turns around, and walks back. This takes about an hour. Normally, as I was told by a campaign aide, these happen without incident. Today, however, was a little different. As part of his walk, Perry visits with local business owners and talks to their employees.
In Summerville, Perry spoke with Shannon Graves, a college student who works behind the counter at Guerin’s Pharmacy, a classic “general store” which sells food and souvenirs, in addition to medicine. Graves, when Perry came to the counter, asked the Texas governor about gay marriage.
“Why, if two people love each other, can’t they get married?" she asked.
“Well, America was founded on Judeo-Christian values,” said Perry in response, “and marriage has been between a man and a woman for thousands of years.”
Graves accepted the answer, and Perry left the store, but she wasn’t satisfied. “I think he’s a nice enough guy,” she said, “but I don’t think he would make a good president.”
When I asked whom she would support in the primary, Graves pointed to the former House speaker, Newt Gingrich. “If he’s the nominee, I will vote for Gingrich,” she said. “I wouldn’t support Perry, Santorum, Ron Paul, or Mitt Romney. If any of them are the nominee, well, I’ll probably vote for Obama.”
It’s easy to paint South Carolina Republicans as uniformly right-wing, but Graves is a good reminder that voters are not nearly as clear-cut as we’d like to think.