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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

January 16, 2012 at 12:47 PM

GOP moms in Myrtle Beach: Colbert ad falls flat

Milling around the satirical sand sculpture outside the debate site in Myrtle Beach

MYRTLE BEACH — We are on the ground covering the debate here tonight by the South Carolina Republican Party, as well as the across-the-town state Tea Party convention. Behind the press tent, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has just signed off with patriotic gusto in a pre-debate rally hosted by the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition.

We’ve already run into some interesting folks around this sunny city on the Atlantic (otherwise a pretty quiet place this time of year), including those gathering to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., and Moms Matter, a family-issues group that’s politically independent but who hosted Perry and Rick Santorum at a packed town-hall style meeting at the Fresh Brewed Coffee House in downtown Myrtle Beach.

While Ilona (literally) dashed off to follow the MLK parade, I ambled over to the coffee shop (which are oddly in short supply in these parts, at least to a Seattle-based grad student far from home).

On the way in, I ran into Renee Knight Woodberry, Rick Santorum’s chairwoman for Florence, SC, where we were yesterday. Woodberry was in Myrtle Beach to see Santorum, with her son, Tray, who had asked permission to skip school for part of this week to volunteer for the former Pennsylvania senator’s campaign (he had Santorum sign his absence slip).

“I’m so proud of him for coming down and participating,” she said, adding that she was hoping that independent voters and undecided Republicans swing Santorum’s way in the next few days. They’ll need to, as the race opens up with Romney still ahead by quite a bit.

Moms watch a Colbert ad and get quizzed by GOP pollster Frank Luntz: most didn’t like it, not one bit

Inside the Moms Matter forum, people pressed politely past each other, jostling for room in the cramped, dark space. Frank Luntz was warming up the group between appearances by Perry and Santorum. Luntz is a Republican pollster and campaign strategist, and quizzed the crowd (many of them, in fact, self-identified conservative moms) on their knowledge and opinions of comedian Stephen Colbert.

Some said they didn’t like him, frankly, because he mocked their beliefs. Another called him a “Charleston dandy,” which all agreed (after they were asked by Luntz) was a bad thing. Another, however, said that he was “a good Catholic” and husband.

Luntz then ran a version of Colbert’s “corporations are people” riff, with a special intro for moms, taped by Colbert, in which he gave a shout-out to his own mom. Luntz then asked the assembled mothers if they agreed, and/or what they thought, of Colbert’s companies-are-people quip.

It flopped like a lead pancake.

A few giggles gave way to frowns. They weren’t pleased with the teasing. Most of the moms reported that they found the test-ad insulting, and simplistic. We own small businesses, they said, and we’re struggling, or my husband and I own a “corporation” that’s barely making it: was that funny?

Not for these women.

Comments | Topics: campaign oddities, conservatives, Rick Perry

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