Fayette residents stump for their candidates at SATP forum

Local residents advocating for the presidential candidates they support included (from left) Monk Robinson, Dawn Skinner, Linda Sandwich, Benjamin Harbin, event moderator Bonnie Willis, Chip Flanegan, John Potts, Samuel Wofford, Taylor Griffin and Miles Ramos. Photo/Ben Nelms.

It was a time for local supporters of the range of presidential candidates to have their say on why they preferred one candidate over the other. That was the scene in a unique type of forum held Feb. 18 at the Fayette Family Church. A total of 11 local residents sounded off on their presidential preferences at the event sponsored by the South Atlanta Tea Party (SATP). Noteworthy at the event were the several younger speakers including Bennett’s Mill Middle School sixth-grader Miles Ramos.

The brainchild of SATP coordinator Bonnie Willis, the event was open to the supporters of all presidential candidates from both parties.

“We believe this event is a forum to have an impact on you and your neighbors,” said Willis who also moderated the event. “We wanted to get supporters of all the Republican candidates and President Obama.”

That mission was almost accomplished. Though there were no Obama supporters in the room, there were five supporting Ron Paul, four supporting Rick Santorum, one supporting Newt Gingrich and one supporting Mitt Romney. All took the stage to state their case for their candidates to the nearly 100 people attending the event. Supporters were given up to seven minutes to have their say, followed by responses to audience questions.

A video of the entire two-hour event can be viewed at http://youtu.be/9L7A7Vljj0w, courtesy of David Barlow.

Ron Paul had a total of five supporters to take the stage. Among those were Taylor Griffin, Benjamin Harbin, Linda Sandwich and Dawn Skinner.

Supporters for Santorum included Chip Flanegan, John Potts, Samuel Wofford and Miles Ramos.

Rounding out the speakers was Darwin Edwards supporting Newt Gingrich and Monk Robinson supporting Mitt Romney.

Supporting Santorum, Chip Flanegan noted a number of the candidate’s attributes such as his pro-life and 2nd Amendment stands and his championing of “Made in America.” Flanegan also noted that Santorum understands that there are bad people in the world and that the U.S. must maintain a strong military to respond to threats that will arise, adding his belief that Santorum would not let his guard down on Iran.

One of the younger participants was Ron Paul supporter Taylor Griffin. Explaining Paul’s popularity with younger voters, Griffin said he supports Paul because he does not believe in loading the younger generation with debt, adding that it is not our enemies, but rather the nation’s ever-growing debt and inflation that will destroy us. The enemies we need to worry about are those seated in the Federal Reserve banks across this country, Griffin said.

Another Ron Paul supporter was Benjamin Harbin who stated his concern for his children and their future. Harbin was quick to note that many across America act as though they are afraid of Paul’s foreign policy yet it was Paul that warned the nation about 9/11 and voted to go after Osama bin Laden.

Santorum supporter John Potts said the country needs a conservative president, Senate and House of Representatives. Santorum is the most electable of the Republican candidates, Potts said, adding that he trusts Santorum and is comfortable with him as president. Potts said that while he respects the other candidates it is Santorum that may be the only Republican that can beat President Obama in November.

Ron Paul had another supporter in Linda Sandwich who addressed what she described as “red flags” raised by conservative media commentators such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity over the Paul candidacy. Paul is not what they present him to be because he does not fit the mold or the view of the conservative, establishment media, Sandwich insisted. She noted that whether on domestic or foreign policy issues, Paul is one who has lived a good Christian life and will not be run over by adversaries.

Mitt Romney supporter Monk Robinson in his remarks said he sees Romney as a needed money expert. His firm saved a lot of businesses, Robinson said, referencing his own experience in learning that saving a company can be difficult. Robinson said as he gets older he is becoming more pragmatic than idealistic and that he sees Romney as “that kind of guy.”

Next up was Dawn Skinner who also supports Ron Paul. Skinner in her comments said Paul is the only candidate that will put an end to big spending and restore prosperity to America. She noted that Paul is a Christian and a physician who believes that life begins at conception. Skinner added that Paul is the candidate who is aware that America is at a crossroads. He does not participate in legislative pensions, he would audit the Federal Reserve System and he would fight to secure our borders, Skinner said.

Santorum supporter Samuel Wofford speaking next said his candidate is a true conservative who opposes issues such as climate and gun control. Santorum is for real change that threatens the Republican establishment, Wofford said. Advocating for Santorum, Wofford said the candidate puts his faith in God and does not have a checkered past. As the conservative alternative to Obama, Santorum will balance the budget and reduce regulations, said Wofford.

Darwin Edwards spoke next, throwing his support to Newt Gingrich. Edwards said he has known Gingrich a long time, adding that he is brilliant and referenced the changes Gingrich made in 1994 during the Republican Revolution. Wofford cautioned the audience not to let the media choose the presidential candidate.

Rounding out the evening’s supporters was Miles Ramos. A sixth-grader at Bennett’s Mill Middle School, Ramos was far and away the youngest supporter to take the stage. Supporting Santorum, Ramos spoke briefly about America’s future and his desire to see Santorum as the next president. Santorum is the one to take Obama out of office, the one to help us grow as a nation, Ramos said.

The room Friday night was populated with nearly 100 people from Fayette and Coweta counties. It was a unique alternative to the customary type of political event in that the citizens speaking were not those running for office. And for Bonnie Willis that was the idea.

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