By Ryan Quinn
Relatively few voters came out in the drizzle early Saturday to vote at Sanders Middle School, but Eleanor and Robert Yanity took time during their 47th wedding anniversary to vote for Newt Gingrich.
They, like many voters interviewed, said they decided only two days ago to support Gingrich after being impressed by his debate performances. At the CNN debate in North Charleston Thursday, Gingrich, who rose suddenly in polls a few days before the election, blasted the media for questions about his marital infidelity, bringing raucous applause from the audience.
"He tells it like it is," Eleanor Yanity said. "He has a lot of baggage, but who doesn't?"
She said she was tired of negativity and was glad that Gingrich struck back.
"I'm so tired, I'm so tired of these negative ads," she said. She complained about a phone call from the Mitt Romney campaign that lasted five minutes.
Ronin Lynn, 50, also said he could forgive Gingrich's past. He said the debates strengthened his conviction, but that he had decided to support Gingrich before the Iowa caucuses.
Lynn said he voted on economic and foreign policy and that Romney, the former CEO of venture capital firm Bain Capital, didn't relate to him as a member of the middle class. He said Romney could be considered "part of the 1 percent," and that his reluctance to release his taxes was just "one more thing adding to that perception."
Eleanor Yanity said Romney's refusal – he has hinted that he may be taxed at a rate of about 15 percent – just made him look more "wishy-washy."
By 12:30 p.m., 108 people had voted at Sanders.
"You've reached the busy spot," laughed poll manager Tommy Betenbaugh.
Those who did turn up, despite the rain and tornado warning, said they felt a duty to vote.
Though the Yanitys are on Social Security, they said they voted based on the economy because of their three children. Two of their children are in the military – one in Afghanistan, the other a helicopter pilot in North Carolina.
They said they would support whoever is the nominee.
"You have to be pragmatic," Robert Yanity said, saying he would have liked former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum if Santorum had a better chance to win.
Lynn said he would support whoever is nominated, but he doesn't blame President Barack Obama for the economic situation.
"He inherited a mess," Lynn said.