The Daily Rundown | March 06, 2012
>> of ohio the most important state to watch tonight is tennessee . mitt romney and rick santorum are in a tight race for the state 's 55 delegates. newt gingrich is making a late run there. held three events there monday. congressman marsha blackburn join meese to break it down. congresswoman, let me ask you this when it comes to tennessee . one of those southern states in state -wide races when i look at lamar alexander , the current governor, each had a conservative challenger and in each case the establishment candidate won. what makes tennessee a little different in republican primaries maybe than these other states where we've seen mitt romney struggle?
>> i think one of the things that makes tennessee different and significant, chuck is the amount of grass roots voter participation. our people are a little bit ahead of the national curve. they started into a grass roots activism about ten years ago, because ever this they followed the issues very closely. you've got jobs and the economy as issue number one. you've got national security as issue number two. i kind of sum it up, freedom, free markets , free people . and the focus of the voter on the specific issues, i think, is what makes our state a little different. they want to choose the best person to go beat barack obama .
>> but it seems if not the sort of, just an easy ideological decision where no matter what the conservative candidate wins in a republican primary that it seems to be a little different. does that mean, would it surprise you tonight if mitt romney won the primary?
>> it would not surprise me. i think the vetting process that people go through in tennessee is, who is going to be the one that can win in november? and santorum had about a ten-point lead. i understand it's tightened up. gingrich has been very active with a lot of the state legislative delegation and across the entire state , and in tennessee , what you see is basically a good microcosm of america. you've got west tennessee , middle tennessee , east tennessee . more establishment-orienteded in east tennessee . activist oriented in west tennessee . kind of the reagan democrats and then in the center part of the state you have the tea party organizations that are very active around nashville and the suburban areas there.
>> so let's break it down for me. in east tennessee you expect romney to do well. why he was in knoxville sunday, but you expect santorum to do well around nashville?
>> i do. i think so. and then west tennessee , when i was there last weekend, you're going to hear some santorum and gingrich that is coming there, but less romney support that is coming out of that end of the state .
>> any reason why you haven't endorsed yet in this primary process? pretty active the last time?
>> yes, indeed. i've been working with the chairman of the rnc focusing on making certain we have the money raised for whomever is the eventual nominee. we want the resources to there be to go beat president obama when we get to the polling places in november.
>> would you like to see the race come to an end tonight?
>> you know, i'm one of those that thinks that -- i guess this is because i'm an old county party chairman . you're served well by having competitive primaries. i've not enjoyed some, the language and personal attacks in the primary, but i don't think it hurts us if it goes a little further. people are more engaged. they're showing up at the ballot box . i like that. i like that they're investing in this race by casting their ballot.
>> marsha blackburn , congresswoman from tennessee , hasn't endorsed. thanks for coming on this morning.
>> good to be with you. thanks, chuck.