"When you've got a sack full of apples and all of them are kind of tarnished, somehow you've got to find the one you can eat," he said.
Cathy McDevitt, 52, a Westerville doctor who describes herself as a moderate Republican, voted for Paul because he's the only "peace candidate." But she imagines she'll back Romney in the presidential election if he becomes the candidate — despite voting for Obama in 2008.
"I feel that he has just been ineffective as a leader, in terms of runaway spending," she said of Obama. "I think that the U.S. economy doesn't have a chance as long as stuff like that continues. And I think that Mitt Romney is somebody who might be able to start turning that around."
Not all who voted in GOP primaries had the party's interests at heart. Wayne Renardson, 69, a retired jazz musician in Nashville and "political animal," voted for Santorum "because he's the easiest to beat" for Obama. "The Republicans are absolute clowns — all of 'em," he said before hopping on a motorcycle and riding away.
At various precincts around the country, people had nice things to say about Gingrich's intelligence and his taste for big ideas. But there was plenty of talk, too, about baggage, which prominently includes his acknowledgments of past marital infidelity.
At an Atlanta precinct where she voted for Romney, Lena Sisselman, 96, summed up those concerns about Gingrich more pointedly than most.
"I think Gingrich is a smart man, but he's out of place," she said. "And I think he hadn't known how to zip up his pants."
Woodward reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Thomas J. Sheeran in Strongsville, Ohio; Lisa Cornwell in Anderson Township, Ohio; Ken Miller in Edmond, Okla.; Marina Hutchinson in Fayetteville, Ga.; Peter Prengaman in Atlanta; Joe Edwards in Nashville, Tenn.; Russ Bynum in Savannah, Ga., and Dorie Turner in Marietta, Ga., contributed to this report.
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