Four Florida Republicans Weigh 'Real Conservatives' Robert Siegel attends a monthly Republican Party meeting in West Palm Beach, Fla., and talks with GOP voters about who they intend to vote for in Tuesday's presidential primary. One likes Romney; one Huckabee; one Giuliani; and one is undecided.
NPR logo

Four Florida Republicans Weigh 'Real Conservatives'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18391639/18391611" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Four Florida Republicans Weigh 'Real Conservatives'

Four Florida Republicans Weigh 'Real Conservatives'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18391639/18391611" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Now, some Florida Republicans on the presidential primary there next Tuesday. They were gathered for a monthly luncheon at the Bear Lakes Country Club in West Palm Beach.

Our co-host Robert Siegel spoke with four of them after lunch.

ROBERT SIEGEL: It's a small gathering. A couple of dozen people - Republicans, conservatives, many with roots in the northeast.

Mr. SID LANEER(ph) (Vice President): Let me welcome you this morning. I'm Sid Laneer. I am the newly-elected vice president. Thank you.

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. LANEER: We want to start with our pledge and blessing and Blanche(ph) will come and lead us in that, so if we all stand, please?

SIEGEL: The Romney and Giuliani campaigns are both running strong here in southeastern Florida. Among these Republicans, John McCain is not. They don't like his independent take on immigration and other issues.

Here are four club members: Fran Hancock(ph) is an enthusiastic Romney supporter. She owns an insurance agency and she's a state committee member. Bill Diamond is a former New York City commissioner who's with Giuliani. Patrick Moody, a Baptist minister, is for Huckabee. And Cheryl Carpenter-Climick(ph), who runs her own PR firm, remains undecided. I asked them about the statement they heard at lunch from a Romney spokesman. Republicans win when they nominate a real conservative and all the parties constituencies coalesce.

Fran Hancock said she agrees.

Ms. FRAN HANCOCK (Insurance Agency Owner; Mitt Romney Supporter): I very much support people who support the Republican Party principles and I don't believe that we win by changing our principles to fit the other party. I don't want to be Democrat-lite, L-I-T-E, if you will.

SIEGEL: For you, Mitt Romney is real, real Republican…

Ms. HANCOCK: No. I think he's the - he fits the bill best in all the categories as far as I'm concerned. I think we have some wonderful candidates but I do believe Governor Romney does meet the qualifications across the board.

SIEGEL: And Cheryl, what do you think? Which way does the Republican Party went?

Ms. CHERYL CARPENTER-CLIMICK (Public Relations Firm Owner): I don't think it hurts us to have a conservative candidate. It hasn't in the past. We've elected George W. Bush twice and I think what resonates with people is you stand for something. And you need to take a stand and be steady with it because that's what people are looking for is someone strong to make decisions.

SIEGEL: And Patrick Moody, your thoughts on the…

Reverend PATRICK MOODY (Minister, The Village Baptist Church; Mike Huckabee Supporter): I think that core convictions are integral. I think that the American people see that. I think they respect that. They may I completely agree with the position but I think they're looking for someone who's got their feet on the ground solidly. You have to have a position where people know your core convictions and they know you're not going to waver from that.

Mr. BILL DIAMOND (Former Commissioner, Department of Citywide Administrative Services, New York; Rudy Giuliani Presidential Campaign Volunteer): I'm Bill Diamond. I work as a volunteer for Rudy Giuliani in Palm Beach County. I'm his county co-chair here. I had worked with him in New York for eight years, known him for 25 years.

I haven't thought on the matter, if I may. I want to say that I do not believe the majority of the American public are ideologically oriented. They are people on the, you know, conservative side and there are people on the liberal side. But the basic majority of the people of this country want results. And that's frankly what Rudy Giuliani has given them in the city of New York under most difficult circumstances that one can imagine. So while we're all conservatives, that is not an ideological banner that we should carry into the election. We should carry it, our principles, yes, but at the same time, we have to be in mind that only results count for the people. And most of the people would like the parties not to brandish their ideology but to brandish the results.

SIEGEL: Two things, skills of leadership and executive talents that bring about results might be more important than coming across as ideologically pure.

Mr. DIAMOND: Yes, exactly. Maybe not in particular circumstances of the parties, but what basically in the general election, yes, and I think that's where Rudy will shine.

SIEGEL: What do you think about that, Patrick Moody?

Rev. MOODY: That's still an argument of pragmatism versus ideological positions. I think when push comes to shove, when there is a crisis, people have to know where you stand. And people can get results. Bill Clinton got a lot of results. It weren't necessarily the best for the country, in opinion, as I think we'll all agree.

SIEGEL: Bill Diamond is resisting that comparison.

Mr. DIAMOND: Yes, I don't think President Clinton got such great results. I never - he passed up the opportunity to get Osama bin Laden. He had certain results that none of us want to remember or talk about. So I don't think it's just that kind of a background that counts.

Rev. MOODY: The results were results still. And they were results from an ideology that Bill Clinton stands for. And so that's where it comes back again to ideology as opposed to results.

SIEGEL: I have to ask Fran Hancock because when people talk about consistency and poor convictions in primary debates, very often, there's a veiled illusion there to Mitt Romney saying he's the one who's evolved a little bit too sharply over the course of this query. He used to think differently or speak differently about abortion and…

Ms. HANCOCK: Well, that's very true. Others have flip-flopped on many issues but it seems that Governor Romney is always the one that's hit on that, on the one issue in his life. And I personally feel that when he flipped or flopped, he flopped to the right direction. And he's…

SIEGEL: So you're okay with the flip. Would the flip-flop would worry you if there are (unintelligible)?

Ms. HANCOCK: Well, yeah. If people want back the other way at some point.

SIEGEL: Cheryl, how are you going to decide this? You only have a few days left.

Ms. CARPENTER-CLIMICK: I'm going to ask my three-year-old.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. CARPENTER-CLIMICK: I'm going to do a little more research. You know, I'm watching the polls but I'm trying not to let that make my decision for me. I just really want to do some more research on - as I said, the economic issues and the homeland security issues are my biggest concerns. We taught our kids about voting. And as a matter of fact, we were just up in New York and took them to Susan B. Anthony's house. And my young girl talks about, you know, how she helped the ladies vote, that we really made an impression. But my son says we need to vote for Huckabee because I think he just likes the way the name sound.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. CARPENTER-CLIMICK: Huckabee, Huckabee, Huckabee.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: Palm Beach Republican and mother of three-year-old twins, Cheryl Carpenter-Climick. We also heard from Bill Diamond, Fran Hancock and Reverend Patrick Moody.

By the way, before they left the country club, they all exchanged some wistful thoughts about a candidate they would like to see run - former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

BLOCK: That's our co-host Robert Siegel reporting from West Palm Beach.

On the Democratic side, the field of presidential candidates is shrinking. Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich says he's quitting the race and will make a formal announcement tomorrow.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.