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InvisibleKingOftheThing
the cool fool
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Registered: 11/17/02
Posts: 27,389
Loc: USA
Swing State Ohio
    #2989631 - 08/11/04 04:37 AM (12 years, 3 months ago)

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/08/06/politics/main634462.shtml
We asked our chief political writer, David Paul Kuhn, to get in a car and drive from Portland, Maine to Portland, Ore., via all the Battleground States ? those states expected to be the most hotly contested in the presidential election. Armed with a pen, laptop, camera and plenty of No Doz, Kuhn is sending back dispatches that will offer impressions and snapshots of a country making up its mind.
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OHIO

Columbus

As his two chubby English bulldogs run around him, gnarling and growling and fencing each other with their mouths, Pete Bauer is very serious. Stiff faced, bald, bearded, he?s used to people listening. And the former Army interrogator says the Republican Party, his party, needs to listen to him now.

"I believe there is no sense in crying over whether or not we should have had the war. Whether it was a legal war or a lawful war, we have an obligation not just to the people of Iraq but to our own soldiers," Pete says.

"Donald Rumsfeld has messed this up from the beginning. He didn't authorize enough troops. He still hasn't authorized enough troops. He doesn't have control over the chain of command, obviously," he says. "They are using reservists in critical positions that require highly skilled personal, for example interrogation."

No Republican has ever been elected president without winning Ohio. President Bush needs Pete back. He's voted Republican for 28 years, but that's likely to change. Pete can hardly believe it himself.

"If we have the neocons as part of the Bush administration there is no way I will vote for George Bush," he says, standing in a park at the center of German Village. Just south of Columbus, Ohio, German Village is the largest privately funded historic restoration district in the country. It's old and quaint, and very expensive to live in.

Pete says that if "Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Ashcroft are still part of the administration," he will "vote for John Kerry." He adds, though, "I'm not impressed with John Kerry. I don't get a warm fuzzy feeling about him. I don't have a great deal of trust in him. But I certainly will cast a vote against he neocons."

Which means a vote against Bush?

"Which means a vote against Bush," he says.

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Other locals are "porching" a few blocks down the cobblestone street. That's how "we unwind at night," says Bonny Holland, relaxing on a friend's porch, her glass of bourbon set to the side. "Sundays especially."

Bonny voted for Al Gore in 2000 and is backing George Bush this time. She's the first former Gore supporter swinging to Bush yet encountered on this road trip.

"I don?t think its September 11th changed it," she explains. "I think it's the way that Bush has dealt with things since September 11."

This is a Republican porch, owners Marilyn Painter and Allan Nielsen say. But Democrats are welcome. Just bring bourbon, preferably Jack Daniels Black Label.

Sitting on the porch swing, Marilyn says she's voting for Bush. Allan would, if he was a citizen.

Neighbors pass by the porch. They say hello, chat awhile and walk on.

Allan asks this reporter to extend an invitation for John Kerry to drop by for a porch chat. "He can drink lemonade," Allan offers, which is as far as his bipartisanship goes.

Reclining in her rocking chair, Bonny agrees. She adds that she is "going for Bush" because she believes in him as a man.

"I think he is decisive. I think he really has the best interest of this country at heart," Bonn continues. "I don't think he's worried about where he's going next and I just think we have to fight terrorism."

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At the Ohio State Fair outside Columbus, Tiffany and Antonio Conner and their two children (plus one on the way), rest on a bench beneath a massive Ferris wheel.

Antonio and Tiffany grew up together. She says he had a crush on her first. He says it was mutual.

The Conners both say they are voting for John Kerry.

"I just think he?s better than Bush," says Tiffany, dressed in a pink tube top. "Bush hasn't shown me anything in the last four years that shows me that he supports African Americans, or the middle class."

Their kids know how mom and dad are voting.

Six-and-a-half-year-old Larquan Conner sits between his parents. With no front teeth, he says his favorite ride is the "big slide."

Does he know who George Bush is?

He nods. "He?s the president," and then adds immediately: "I don't like him."

Why not?

"Because my mom tells me that he only likes white rich people."

Tiffany covers her face in embarrassment as she and Antonio burst out in laughter. Larquan sits still, unsure what is so funny.

Tiffany explains why she's against Bush. "Everybody who got tax cuts under Bush were the people who really didn?t need it. Caucasian ? and I'm not saying that there are no African Americans who got it ? but just rich, period.

"I could have worded it a different way for Larquan," she says. "That's what he got out of it. But basically, that's what it narrows down to. I think as an African-American middle-class family, we've been left out of Bush's plan."

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As his 11-year-old daughter rides the merry-go-round, Craig Ratliff stands with his arms crossed, a tattoo proudly showing in his black tank top. In his 29 years he's never voted.

"There has never been an issue that affected me until now," Craig explains.

And now?

"We need to get Bush out of office."

First Craig says the reason is "the religious wing; he?s on the right side." Then he says its "just hearing" the president talk. "Everything he says." Craig smiles, and adds, "I don't really have a good reason." He chuckles and finds an explanation. "My biggest hang-up right now is that they got FCC, Stern, Michael Powel."

Craig listens to Howard Stern almost every day on the radio. The shock jock is furious about fines levied on him by the Federal Communications Commission and has used his show to campaign against Bush.

Howard Stern has Craig on his side. He says he trusts Stern "more so than Bush" and would elect him "in a second" over the president. He says he's voting for Kerry because "he's the only other option."

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Bucyrus

Jim Patrick's auto shop in this small town between Toledo and Columbus is just getting by. Jim's father founded The Muffler House nearly three decades ago. Now Jim struggles to keep it afloat.

As some of his employees fix the underbelly of a car, Jim talks about his conservatism. He doesn't think he's ever voted for a Democrat for president. But this year, like about a dozen former Bush supporters randomly interviewed in these past five days, he is considering his options.

"A lot of it has to do with Iraq," he says, the sun glaring off his face. "Pretty much everything they were talking about before the war started has not come to pass, as far as the weapons of mass destruction, that whole thing. If we did go to war we should have waited for help from other countries," Jim says. "That, and the economy," he adds.

Craig is not an anyone-but-Bush voter. He is not giving a vote to a president he doesn't believe in. And he doesn't believe in John Kerry.

"I'm not overly impressed with either one," he says. "I may not even vote, to tell you the truth, because I am not a 100 percent behind either one of them."

For Bush to get Jim's vote back, he must bring "our boys home." For Kerry to win Jim over, he must explain how "our boys" are coming home.

But as Jim hands a customer his keys and looks at his empty lot, he acknowledges that he'd also like to see the economy improve. It's unclear, though, how a man running for the Oval Office can convince Jim that he can put more cars in his garage.


By David Paul Kuhn
?MMIV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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