Longform

I-4 Corridor Predicts Florida for Romney

Page 4 of 5

Corine Peterson, one of Fisher's friends, is a retired nurse from Orlando who, like her friend, will vote for Obama this year as well. "First, I'm not a Republican," she says. "And I think he's done a good job in four years being in that big mess."

Fisher adds, "Yay, Democrats!"

Soon, a dumpy 30-something in a powder-blue patrolman's uniform armed with a spiral reporter's notepad hurries past the exit and stops in front of a New Times reporter in the parking lot. We smile. "Who're you voting for in the presidential election?" we ask, hoping to break the ice.

"You need to leave, sir," says Michael Cavallary, Holy Land's hired security.

Definitely a Romney supporter, we gather. "Right, would you mind helping us find our vehicle?"

Cavallary's at a crossroads: Honor thy badge or keep playing hardball. He chooses the latter and follows us around the parking lot for ten minutes until... oops, silly us! The car was right there all along. God provided.

Romney — 4, Obama — 2.


Daytona Beach's popularity among spring breakers has dwindled over the years. What was once an oasis of college coeds in barely there bikinis is now a sort of sleepy vacation rental stuck in 1984.

Sure, there're still wet T-shirt contests and binge drinking, but that sort of stuff happens only a few times a year. And as luck would have it, debauchery landed in Daytona about the same time as Mitt Romney on Friday, October 21.

Staring at a makeshift castle accented with two long "Florida is Romney Ryan Country" banners, it was easy to forget that just beyond the secure perimeter of the Daytona Beach Bandshell, bikers from around the world were pounding Bud by the keg and comparing switchblades with their newfound Biketoberfest buddies.

But then an ocean breeze carried a rogue waft of motor oil and methanol, and we were reminded that for this one weekend, Mitt Romney's hair wasn't the most exciting thing possible.

"Oh, this is a great added bonus," says Wayne Cunningham. "We're excited to see Mr. Romney."

Cunningham, who is in his 60s, bears a striking resemblance to Ernest Hemingway. He has puffy, rose-tinted cheeks, two big bear claws for hands, and a sweet gray-white beard. He and his brother Terry both live in Lakeland but are in Daytona for the motorcycle rally. When they found out Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would make an appearance, they sped over to the band shell.

Terry's a consultant for big oil. He thinks the EPA is public enemy number one. "I worked in the Gulf of Mexico until the spill," he says. "Then the moratorium came in; they shut us down."

Despite a consensus among scientists that global temperatures are rising, Terry is unconvinced. He believes the EPA and Department of Energy "cost a lot of money to operate" and only "inhibit the production of energy" through regulation. As far as Terry's concerned, "the environment's better off today than it was ten years ago."

For these reasons, he's voting for Romney.

And so is Danny Bzanos, an 18-year-old Daytona local voting in his first election. "I took ROTC for four years, so I'm more towards the Republican side," Bzanos says. "It opened my eyes to see that America's more like a business, and Romney's a businessman."

Alexander Westberry, also a first-time voter, is eager to cast his ballot for the Romnoid. "I don't like the way that our country's been going the last four years," Westberry says. "I don't like the debt, I don't like that [Obama] lied about closing Guantánamo Bay..."

Then there is Marcia Lapp, a pretty, wholesome-looking woman in her early 40s. "I'm scared for our country," she says, clenching husband Robert's right arm like the Apocalypse is minutes from unfolding. "I'm scared for the values of our country: Belief in God. Absolute belief in God."

Robert interjects, "I think [Obama] has Islamic tendencies, yes. It's all in the breeding, of which he has none."

Puzzled, we ask him to elaborate.

"I think he's a mulatto, if you want to know the truth. Facts are facts."

Romney — 6, Obama — 0.


Just northwest of the I-4 corridor about 130 miles from Walt Disney's whimsical Fantasyland, a simple Gainesville man with a white Fu Manchu mustache, low-pitched Southern drawl, and a promise to defend America is charting a course to the White House that is far different from either Obama's or Romney's.

Despite promises to reduce the national deficit, close the borders, and slash military funding "by several billion dollars," however, Terry Jones estimates his chances of winning the general election in November are "probably minus one" on a scale to ten.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Victor Gonzalez