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Republican Candidates Eats: Romney Removes Chicken Skin, Perry Calls BBQ Roadkill

​Today the voters of New Hampshire will trudge through miserable weather and vote for their preferred Republican candidate in the presidential primary. You are probably familiar with all of the folks running by now: Newty, Mittens, Sneezy, Grumpy, etc. If they look a bit pale and green around the gills, consider they've just spent months eating every queasy street food available in Iowa.

Here are some specific gastronomic stories relating to each candidate, along with a snippet of their political views on food and nutrition. There are surprises: One candidate takes his wife out to eat only at food carts, another candidate held a contest for a lucky winner to share a burrito lunch with him, and another compared North Carolina barbecue to roadkill. Oops.

If you are what you eat, this is the only guide Republican primary voters will need to consult when making their determination about character (and if you're curious, we have already opined as to what food each candidate would be if they were, indeed, foods).

Huntsman leaving the Puritan Backroom restaurant in Manchester, NH
Huntsman leaving the Puritan Backroom restaurant in Manchester, NH

Jon Huntsman
Food: As a young man, Huntsman worked in a restaurant with the woman he would wed. "She was the salad girl who stole his heart," it says in his campaign video. In the same clip, Huntsman is referred to as "the world's best pancake chef... who makes a mean egg-white omelet... a man who won't make restaurant reservations because the food carts he eats at won't take them... [Wife] Mary Kay says she'd like to eat somewhere nice someday, but that day seems yet to arrive."

Huntsman's favorite place to eat when staying in California is Henry's Taco Stand in Los Angeles. He also has a thing for clay-pot dishes and chili crab from his days as ambassador to Singapore. No doubt he has a keen knowledge and appetite for Chinese food as well.

He also seems to enjoy Jewish comfort food. As Kathleen Parker writes in Newsweek: "Looking to grab a bite across from Penn Station before hopping his train back to Washington, Huntsman asked the waiter: 'Got any matzo-ball soup?'"

Food politics: While governor of Utah, Huntsman cut the state's food tax in half.

Do not bother this man when he's eating.
Do not bother this man when he's eating.

Ron Paul
Foods: It shouldn't surprise that Paul isn't much of a gourmand. In fact, photos of him eating gross street foods are extremely rare. On the other hand, that might be because he really doesn't like being disturbed while chowing down. While sitting over breakfast last Thursday at an Embassy Suites hotel in Iowa, a reporter from the National Journal stopped by Paul's table to ask whether he was bothered that if he doesn't win, his followers won't rally behind the eventual GOP nominee. "He (Paul) looks up from his plate of cantaloupe, honeydew, eggs, sausage and biscuit and says brusquely, 'Right now, the only thing that bothers me is people who don't respect my privacy enough to leave me alone for five minutes when I'm eating breakfast.' And then he goes back to reading his USA Today."

From this incident we can infer that Paul has a fairly hearty appetite in the morning.

Food politics: Shortly before announcing his run for President, Congressman Paul introduced legislation to allow interstate raw milk sales. "I think you should make your own choice on whether you drink raw milk or not," says the peppy Libertarian.

He also started the Ron Paul Food Drive, a nationwide program aimed at collecting five tons of non-perishable food items across the United States.

Yet while he gives with one hand, his libertarian instincts take away with the other: Paul wants to eliminate the Child Nutrition Program which provides students in low income areas with funding for school breakfasts and lunches.

Rick Perry
Food: Perry's most controversial comment on food came in 1992, when the pre-governor politician ate some Eastern North Carolina barbecue. "I've had road kill that tasted better than that," said Perry, evidently ignoring the longstanding political etiquette of always complimenting the chow.

And the comment has come back to haunt him, as evidenced by a recent essay in the Charlotte Examiner titled "Rick Perry's NC BBQ 'Road Kill' Comment Makes Him Ineligible to Be President." The author of the piece, Jeffrey Weeks, takes issue with the very notion of Texas barbecue brisket: "You make steaks out of cows. Read my lips, BBQ comes from a gosh-darned pig."

The Borowitz Report spoofs the Governor with the headline: "FDA Declares Rick Perry A Vegetable; Texas Governor Approved for School Lunches." It satirically adds the quote: "As a vegetable, I am honored to join the other three food groups," said Gov. Perry. "Meat, dairy, and...nope, can't do it. Oops."

Food politics: Perry is the only candidate to have grown up on a farm, and has been a strong supporter of farmers. As Agriculture Commissioner, Perry promoted the sale of Texas farm produce to other states and foreign nations. He doesn't have much to say about nutrition policy.

Newt goes off diet with Moose Tracks ice cram at Elly's Tea and Coffee House in Muscatine, Iowa
Newt goes off diet with Moose Tracks ice cram at Elly's Tea and Coffee House in Muscatine, Iowa

Newt Gingrich
Food: Newt recently presided over a South Carolina GOP barbecue fundraising event, but didn't touch the food. "I should lose weight," Newt admitted. "Everybody who tells me I should lose weight, they are all correct. I just find it really hard to lose weight." Now there's an issue millions of Americans can relate to.

Food politics:
Newt is the by far the best of the bunch concerning the improvement of America's health and eating habits. "The soft drink companies should be challenged to produce healthy alternatives or to expect to have reduced access to young people as a market," he says. Gingrich is also in favor of kids working out. "I believe we ought to have mandatory K through 12, five-day-a-week physical education." He's been touting this particular idea since 2006.

Mitt Romney
Foods: Mitt is the only candidate to have held a contest that allowed one winner to share lunch with him. "Grab A Bite with Mitt" it was called, and the winner was Soren Dorius, a law student from Toledo, Ohio. Dorius flew to Boston and then met up with Mittens and his wife at Dos Amigos restaurant in New Hampshire, where the contest winner got to chow down on a pork burrito along with the multi-millionaire.

"Surprisingly delicious and tasty," said Romney. "And I got the medium heat. Wonderful. Pretty darn good."

"I'm a very lucky man," said Dorius afterward. Wonder how lucky he'd feel if after all that travel he actually got to eat a full meal.

According to a Politico e-book, "Usually, Romney dines on turkey breast, rice, and broccoli, chased by water or maybe a Diet Coke. In South Carolina, for a big treat, he might visit a Bojangles' for the fried chicken. Romney relished KFC, but pulled off the skin...If he has a slice of pizza, he pulls the cheese off the top."

You'd think with eating habits such as these, Romney would withhold ridicule of others. But no, he's running for President, so he has to mock Michelle Obama for her stance on healthful eating. Making fun of President Obama's move towards securing the centrist, blue collar vote, Mitt sneered, "He sounded like he was going to dig up the first lady's organic garden to put in a Bob's Big Boy." He also equated Obama's economic plans to Marie Antoinette's line Let them eat cake.

"I'm sorry," he added in correction, "Organic cake."

Food politics: Romney describes himself as "vigilant about nutrition" but has made no statements nor introduced any policy in regards to improving national food or nutrition programs.

Rick Santorum
Foods: Not much info is available on Santorum's eating habits, other than the photo of a rather phallic-looking ice cream cone inserted into his mouth. He must like chicken with mayonnaise too, because Pizza Ranch in Iowa named a chicken salad after him.

Food politics: "If hunger is a problem in America," said compassionate Rick while campaigning in Iowa, "then why do we have an obesity problem among the people who we say have a hunger problem?" Sounds scary, but if Santorum ever became president, his views on hunger would be the least of our worries.

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