Mackinac Island, Michigan–At the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference four years ago, then-State Chairman Saul Anuzis won a feather in his political cap for managing to woo seven of eight Republican presidential candidates to the GOP conclave here at the Grand Hotel. The lone no-show was Mike Huckabee, who could not manage a flight to the bucolic island that was the site of the hit film Somewhere in Time.
At the same conference this weekend, two of the Republican hopefuls spoke at the Mackinac Conference and they were the two the national press increasingly says are those who the contest is really between: Rick Perry, who spoke at the luncheon Saturday, and Mitt Romney, who has the coveted role at the banquet Saturday evening.
But as much as the Mackinac Conference mirrors the growing attitude of the punditocracy that this is a two-candidate race and as much as Michigan appears to be “Romney country,” there are backers of other candidates in the Wolverine State. Rep. Candice Miller and former 9th District Chairman Glenn Clark told us that they will soon be revealing names of other supporters for their favorite, Rick Perry.
“And I’m pretty sure I’m the second Member of Congress to support Ron Paul,” freshman Rep. Justin Amash (R.-Mich.) told HUMAN EVENTS Saturday, noting that the Texas congressman is also backed by his son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
Amash also voiced his concern that the eventual Republican nominee might just not carry Michigan against Barack Obama. As he put it, “Obama is still quite popular here and we need the right nominee, someone who presents enough of a contrast to [Obama] to show voters there is a real choice out there.”
Asked if Paul has support at the Mackinac Conference the way he has had at similar forums in which there is a straw vote for President, Amash replied: “Sure. He always does very well at those straw votes. He does well wherever there are people who cherish liberty and individual freedom.”
Another congressman who is so far neutral in the race confessed to HUMAN EVENTS his fondness for Herman Cain.
“Herman Cain rocks,” freshman Rep. Bill Huizenga told us, “He has these strong beliefs and just says what he means, from the heart. I love the guy.”
One interesting part of the Mackinac saga is that, for all her efforts at straw-poll events and party conferences, Michele Bachmann has shown no sign of a presence here or in Michigan.