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Published February 08, 2012, 09:47 AM

What Minnesota voters said on caucus night

A roundup of what some Minnesota voters had to say as they caucused Tuesday night to vote in a presidential preference poll:

A roundup of what some Minnesota voters had to say as they caucused Tuesday night to vote in a presidential preference poll:

Cindy Showalter, a nurse from Andover, said she and her husband were attending a caucus for the first time. She said they decided to come after their 21-year-old son, a Ron Paul supporter, told her he was attending a caucus.

"He's pumped up about this election," Schowalter said. "It was embarrassing to hear him say that he was going to caucus and we'd never been to one."

Showalter hadn't made up her mind whom to support, saying she wanted to hear arguments. Her top priority, she said, is "keeping my money in my pocket."

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Nancy and Tom Hill, of Andover, were at their first caucus and backing Ron Paul. They said Santorum was their second choice.

"I've evolved over the years from Democrat to independent to Republican," said Nancy Hill, an assistant to a financial planner. "But I'm ready to evolve back to independent, because I support the tea party and limited government, and I think there's too many Republicans who aren't worried about that. Ron Paul is the only one who's really talking about reducing the size of government."

Added Tom Hill, who owns a small business: "We need to get back to the Constitution."

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In Coon Rapids, Minn., truck driver Rod Garberson showed up an hour early at a caucus where Ron Paul planned to make an appearance to make sure he wouldn't miss his favored candidate. Garberson, 42, said he was so firmly behind Paul that he may not vote in the fall if he's not the nominee. He said other candidates ring hollow when they talk about personal liberty and small government.

"I gotta tell you, this time I'm pretty well stuck on not supporting the party even if it means eight years of Obama and we all stand in bread lines for five hours for a sack of potatoes," Garberson said.

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Bruce Olson, a retired Minnesota state employee, was undecided but said he cares only that President Obama is replaced.

"How we get there remains to be worked out," said Olson, who was attending a caucus in Andover.

Olson called himself a "recovering Democrat" but said his years working in delivery of human services programs made him believe such spending "creates dependence." He said his top priority for the next president is he'll be someone who cuts federal spending.

"This talk of cutting the rate of growth has to stop. We have to cut the budget, period. We have to spend what we're taking in and we have to get there quick."

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Cheryl Czech, 56, a house painter from Lino Lakes, said after seeing Santorum at a rally in Blaine on Tuesday afternoon that she would be backing him. She said she felt she could trust him more than the other candidates.

"I like the way he talks. He sounds so sincere about what he says."

Czech said the other candidates "are so political in their back and forth."

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Kendall McMullin, 36, of Andover, who works in retail management, was on the fence between Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

"I'm a pretty diehard conservative and I think the two of them are closest to my ideology."

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Ernie Bedor, a 59-year-old insurance agent, spoke out in support of Romney during his caucus meeting in Andover.

"I think Romney with his business background would be a better choice to stimulate our economy, get this economy going and create more jobs. I think that's one way to take care of our deficit, to get more people working and pumping more money into the economy. I think Romney would be the best man to grow the economy."

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In Shakopee, Minn., Leon King said he was leaning toward Newt Gingrich because of his experience and because he felt Gingrich would match up best with President Obama in a debate.

King, 64, a technology worker, said he considers himself a Republican but has voted outside his party in the past.

He said he welcomes the Minnesota GOP's move rightward in recent years.

"I hope the whole national has shifted," King said. "We must be more conservative. We need less government. Let the states go in and say what they need. Let the individuals choose what they need."

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Sheila Mitchell, 65, rose to speak for Rick Santorum at a caucus in Shakopee. Mitchell said she had watched all the debates and then read from a prepared statement.

"The reason I'm from Rick Santorum is because of the issues," Mitchell said. "He's pro-life and the way he's voted is honest and direct. He's against the cap and trade limiting the flow of goods and services. He's for US-made goods."

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Jannette Costa, 40, of Shakopee, said she was backing Rick Santorum.

He's pro-life. He seems to have a very good understanding of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and of what the founders intended for our country," she said. "I feel like he has a really good grasp of basic American history."

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Annabelle Eichhorst, 73, a housewife and school kitchen worker in Shakopee for 45 years, said she was disillusioned by fighting between Democrats and Republicans.

"They're not following what I think should be done by politicians. ... They're not getting anything done," Eichhorst said.

She said Santorum has seemed different in the debates she has seen.

"He's acting more like a good politician," she said. "That's what our country needs. To know what's right and wrong."

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Jerome Stay, a retired heavy equipment mechanic at a caucus in Shakopee, backed Santorum.

"He's got good family values for one thing," Stay said.

President Obama's administration "doesn't show signs of (family values) being an important issue," Stay said.

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