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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

March 3, 2012 at 9:10 AM

Some blue Democrats at Rick Santorum rally in Pasco voice opposition to his marriage views

PASCO — It is common knowledge that the Cascade Mountains divide Washington State politically, with the majority of liberals and Democrats in the western half of the state and more conservatives and Republicans to the East.

At Rick Santorum’s campaign rally in Pasco on Thursday night, however, I found a few Democrats in Tri Cities.

Santorum gave his usual stump speech with a few new additions. He delivered a history lesson on the “Godless” French Revolution, did a bit of show and tell with a piece of “light sweet crude” from North Dakota while he talked about America’s energy future, and he reflected on a story about his basketball coach.

Barack Obama supporters at Rick Santorum rally in Pasco, WA

Left to right, Drew Saunders, Rob Darling, and Vanessa Whattan discuss why they support Barack Obama while attending Rick Santorum rally in Pasco, WA on March 1, 2012 (Photo by Lindsey Meeks/UW Election Eye)

When he hit the mark in his speech that focused on the Constitution being the “operator’s guide to America,” he recited the famous words that “all men are created equal.” Within the same breath, he then professed that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Throughout the night, the crowd was active and cheered  positively when Santorum spoke of liberty and freedom. However, at this point in the speech, a single voice of dissent sounded in the crowded ballroom.

Rob Darling, from nearby Richland, called back at Santorum, asking how he could champion men being equal and yet not support marriage equality. Darling was booed, and the woman to my right said, “Someone should put a sock in his mouth.”

At the end of Santorum’s speech, I asked Darling why he came to the rally. He said he wanted to “see what people had to say,” and find out whether candidates stray from their stump speech when they come to a small place. Darling was disappointed by Santorum’s speech, calling it “vague” and said he should have “come with something more specific if he wanted to get hired for this job.”

Darling was most disappointed by Santorum’s emphasis on constitutional values to justify some of his ideas, but not in support for same-sex marriage. He said, “Santorum talks about community but motivates his speech around division.”

Darling was not alone in his beliefs. Richland High School students Vanessa Whattan and Drew Saunders approached Darling to thank him for speaking out, and said they supported him and shared his views. Whattan and Saunders wanted to see Santorum even though they don’t agree with him because they appreciate hearing the other side, and think it’s “not fair to only listen to one side.”

Rick Santorum rally goers discuss marriage debate

Rally goers discussion marriage debate following Rick Santorum rally in Pasco, WA on March 1, 2012 (Photo by Lindsey Meeks/UW Election Eye)

As for the upcoming elections, Darling, Whattan, and Saunders all said that they supported Barack Obama and are disappointed by the Republican choices. Darling said that Obama was considerably less divisive than Santorum, and had done a good job leading the country through a tough, complicated few years.

The Obama supporters were heavily outnumbered by Santorum supporters. Hundreds showed up to support Santorum that night, and Joseph Foster of Pasco went so far as to say that Santorum was the “only Republican running for President.”

The Cascades may do their share of dividing the red and the blue in Washington, but that doesn’t keep political debate from springing up throughout the Evergreen State.

Comments | Topics: Barack Obama, Democrats, Election 2012

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