COLUMBIA — After a visit by Perry, Gingrich and Santorum to the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce‘s forum here in Columbia this evening, we asked some of the business folks lingering in the foyer for their impressions.
One of them, W. Graham Tribble, a recent graduate of the University of Virginia, who was also one of the younger members of the crowd, thought that Santorum was a bit out of depth presenting his “made in America” plan. He had missed Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presentation.
“He [Santorum] has trouble communicating,” Tribble said. “He talked about Pennsylvania, but people had a hard time relating. It was not his crowd.”
Gingrich has done much better, Tribble said, at staying consistently appealing to the types of Republicans who want a “tough” candidate for the fall’s contest with President Obama, and at answering the group’s questions (the candidates were queried about the role of the federal government in business regulation, energy plans and issues surrounding the National Labor Relations Board and Boeing’s investment in the state).
People like Gingrich’s “gravitas,” Tribble said, and how Gingrich can name-drop and say things like, “‘Clinton and I had a rhythm. We would hold a press conference, beat each other up, and then hold a meeting.'”
But Tribble didn’t buy Gingrich’s explanation for his attacks on Romney. Regarding the former’s assaults centering around Bain Capital, “sometimes you have to fire people in business.”