It’s no surprise that Mitt Romney’s campaign in Pennsylvania is looking pretty dismal. Recent polls show the Republican presidential candidate down 10 to 12 points in the commonwealth. His media campaign is almost nonexistent. On Friday, he held a fundraiser at the Union League before campaigning in Valley Forge—his first public appearance in the region in months. Even he said it would be a “shock” if he won Pennsylvania.
But that’s not stopping Anne Sutherland, 22, and a small crowd of supporters from getting up every morning, opening up the campaign’s local office near Fourth and South streets, calling Pennsylvania households and urging a vote for the former Massachusetts governor.
On a recent Wednesday, Sutherland is leaning over a desk in the campaign office, a phone glued to her ear. Two other interns sit next to her, also on the phone. They’re given a list of names and numbers from around the state, not knowing their party affiliation, and call them cold. Which means, she says, about half the calls she makes are to President Obama supporters.
“[When I call an Obama voter], sometimes, I say you should keep an open mind,” Sutherland later says, “but I usually don’t do that because I don’t think it’s my place. That’s not what I’m here for.”
Sutherland is not your typical Romney supporter. And it’s not just because she’s in the largely Democratic Philadelphia. Or because she’s young. Or a woman. It’s because she’s not even American. Sutherland traveled from her native Scotland to be here for the campaign season—an opportunity she says she found on Internships.com.
“The economy is the main reason I am supporting Mitt Romney,” she says. “I think [Romney’s vision] is about being encouraged to do things for yourself.”
Sutherland says she comes from a family of British entrepreneurs and that her father started several successful companies in the United Kingdom, which turned her into a stickler for private-sector competition. She uses the term “nanny state”—a derogatory term people use for government intrusion in their lives—to describe where the U.S. may be headed under Obama’s leadership.
When she was younger, her father’s career led the family to move to Dallas for two years—during which time he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. “My dad had his treatment here and my mom still says he lived because we were in the U.S.A. and he got great care,” Sutherland says. But that doesn’t mean she’s renouncing the United Kingdom’s universal healthcare system, which, unlike President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is completely government-run. “I think it’s great,” she notes of the U.K. system. “I think the [British National Health Service] is a tribute to us, but it’s also the world’s third-largest employer and it leaves no room for competition … [so] I don’t understand why you would fight against your own health care when it’s better than ours.”
She continues: “Your taxes will go up exponentially. I mean, our country is only 60 million and we still can’t afford health care … If you expect everyone to have health care for the amount you pay right now, it’s never going to happen.”
The Scottish intern’s personal analysis aside, studies differ on how much taxes will go up when the Patient Protection Act goes into full effect in 2016. A recent estimate from the Joint Committee on Taxation noted tax increases and “revenue-related provisions” will increase $675 billion between now and 2022. However, in theory, universal coverage means costs will decrease to make up for the taxes. The Congressional Budget Office also estimates the law will cut the deficit by $200 billion by 2021.
Partisan estimates from both sides often show two very different stories. Sutherland, obviously, believes the conservative estimates.
“I really don’t understand where Obama thinks the money is going to come from,” Sutherland says. “I don’t think America has any idea.”
OK, we’ll give her that.
As we now know, Romney was declared the winner of the debate by, who else, the pundit class. We also know that the Republican repeated several falsehoods, changed his previous positions, accused Obama and his running mate of making myriad bad decisions, and was never called out by the president for any of it. But that didn’t matter.