ATLANTA — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is counting on the Dirty South to kick-start his presidential campaign again. He surged there after a hell-raisin’ South Carolina primary in January, which has been the high point of his run so far. But Gingrich has been in a drought and is hoping but he’s been in a drought so far and is hoping that a W in his home state of Georgia will provide the delegate count he needs to keep his show on the road.
The big talk about the Super Tuesday rush, during which 10 states will offer up 419 delegates, is mostly about leading contenders Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Those two are expected to battle it out for first place everywhere except in Georgia.
With his only distinct lead in that state, where he served as a congressman for some two decades, even Gingrich admitted recently in rare moment of vulnerability, “I have to win Georgia, I think, to be credible in the race.”
So Gingrich has got Georgia on his mind, but MTV News’ Powerof12 is on the ground in the state to ask: Do the young voters give a Newt? We hit up the Georgia Tech Young Republicans meeting on Monday night to see what the vibe was among engaged conservatives — and some lively libertarians who joined the party and the collegiate cross-fire was definitely in full effect.
The crew agreed that Newt would most likely win the state, especially with voters outside of the Atlanta metro area, but also lobbed some strong criticisms at the White House wannabe, citing his power-hungry desire for executive orders if he were to take the Oval Office. But they also gave him props for policies they dig like making legal immigration easier to reduce the border mess.
And they aren’t worried about him ruining the Republican race by sticking it out to the bitter end. In fact, they want Newt to hang on because they’re stoked about the idea of a brokered GOP convention that would allow for some serious politicking in Tampa this August.
“I’m just now getting excited. The polls are getting really interesting,” said one attendee of the meeting, while another chimed in that it was cool to see the social media engagement that Obama started in ’08 catch on with the Republican candidates. “I follow Newt and the others on Twitter and Facebook. They got smart and realized that’s where young people are, and we’re the ones who have to pay off this debt so they need to talk to us,” the Young Republican said.
Granted, this was a small sampling of the more than 1.5 million young Georgians eligible to vote in the 2012 election. But if all of them are as engaged and energized as these 20-plus college students, they could definitely make or break Newt with their voting power at the polls on Tuesday (March 6). But will they show up? We’ll be posted up all over Atlanta to get the inside scoop — so stay tuned to see if Gingrich can get ‘er done in Georgia!
MTV has Super Tuesday covered, with reporters on the scene in Georgia, Ohio and Massachusetts! Check back for up-to-the-minute coverage on all the primaries, and stick with Power Of 12 throughout the presidential election season.