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AmSam targeted in Romney’s quest for delegates

patty@samoanews.com
Former Fono Representative and delegation chairman Su'a and his wife Salote Schuster chat with Gov. Mitt Romney during the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota. [courtesy photo]

With the local Republican caucus set for Tuesday, Mar. 13, American Samoa was the focus of political pundits over the weekend. Signaling the national interest, an article called “Why Romney will Dominate the American Samoa Caucuses” flashed online from the BuzzFeed.com website.

BuzzFeed staff writer McKay Coppins answers his own question right off the bat, saying in the subhead, “It's got one of the densest Mormon populations in the world.”

Coppins appears to be the site’s Romney expert with ten of his last ten blogs about the lead Republican contender for the slot to face Pres. Barack Obama in November.

Quoting statistics that he attributes to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, he writes there are more Latter-Day Saints per capita in American Samoa than almost any other country or territory in the world — a whopping 25% of the population.

While this may be a little-known piece of trivia outside the Church, the writer says it “seems clear the Romney campaign has connected the dots. At a strategy briefing earlier this week in Boston, an aide specifically cited the South Pacific as a place where they expected their candidate to perform well.”

The Romney Campaign is sending the candidate’s son Matt Romney to the Northern Marianas and Guam this coming week to try and sway the Republican vote there.

McKay has done his research on American Samoa, backgrounding that the Mormon Church first sent missionaries to the region in 1843, just 13 years after it was organized.  He points out, the church organized the island's first Boy Scout troop in 1938 (not a statement we fact checked although the church currently sponsors a majority of troops on island).

He opines the church has benefited as well — with Brigham Young University Utah campus (where Romney attended) “famous for recruiting heavily from American Samoa and its surrounding islands.” And BYU owns the Polynesian Cultural Center that includes a large Samoan section and employs Polynesian students from their BYU Hawaii campus.

He doesn’t point out that American Samoa’s non-voting delegate, Faleomavaega Eni who is campaigning for his twelfth consecutive term, has more than likely benefited from this 25% LDS population as a lifelong member of the church.

The American Samoa Republican Party will hold its caucus on Tuesday and it is rumored it will know by then the candidate they will vote for in the Republican convention in Florida.

Radio New Zealand quotes local party chairman, Dr. Victor Tofaeono, who says his group is not yet committed to any candidate.

Dr. Tofaeono says the local party only has nine votes, and wants to make sure American Samoa’s votes count. “We don’t want to vote for somebody who will not be the nominee because then our votes will be wasted. So we have to pretty well decide by Tuesday who that nominee will be so that we can back the right person,” he told Radio New Zealand over the weekend.

Tuesday's territorial caucus will select six delegates, who are technically unbound, to make up the nine-person delegation. Coppins ventures that they will likely be picked for their pro-Romney leanings; the other three will be local party officials.

Samoa News has been running an advertisement inviting the public to the meeting/ caucus tomorrow, Tuesday, Mar. 13, at the Toa restaurant in Nu’uuli.

WHAT IS BUZZ FEED?

Wikipedia defines Buzz Feed as a website that combines a technology platform for detecting viral content with an editorial selection process to provide a snapshot of "the viral web in realtime."

Co-founded in 2006 by Jonah Peretti (who is also co-founder of The Huffington Post), BuzzFeed is headquartered in New York.



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