Undecided Voters Discuss the Presidential Election
[Sorry, the video for this story has expired, but you can still read the transcript below. ]
SPENCER MICHELS: Thank you all very much for being with us at Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Dave Montgomery, let me start with you. You’re a pilot, you’ve been in the military, you’re registered as a Republican, but you’ve been undecided. Did this convention, anything you hear, help make up your mind?
DAVID MONTGOMERY: Not really. So far, I see it as kind of a pep rally and I think when they wrap themselves in the flag, I guess I go along with that a little bit, but then afterward I step back and realize that they’re doing the pep rally thing.
SPENCER MICHELS: Rosie Fertig, did you get inspired by what you heard? You’re a part of the Republican base. Were you energized?
ROSIE FERTIG: I was very energized. I watched the convention all four days and I thought all the speakers, all the information that they’re giving out, they’re excellent.
All the speakers were very– they hit the point home of national defense, tax reform, and social – you know, health care. I got a lot out of it. You know, everybody gets little pieces out of it.
BRYAN MORRIS: They’re not talking about the issues that really matter to people, like the loss of good paying jobs in this country as they’re being exported overseas.
SPENCER MICHELS: You lost a job in this area.
BRYAN MORRIS: I lost an entire long-term career to overseas outsourcing and I was unemployed for a year- and-a-half. And now I’m retraining at a community college to go into a skilled trade. It’s the only way I could afford to make a living, and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do that.
SPENCER MICHELS: Mary Powell, you voted for Nader in the last election, but you were born and raised a Republican. What about now, what did you hear at the convention that was interesting? Did you decide who to vote for?
MARY POWELL: No. ( Laughter ) I wish. However, I would say, going into the Republican Convention, I was definitely leaning a lot further toward Kerry than I am now. And so the convention has brought me more towards the middle.
SPENCER MICHELS: Derek Ewell, who registered as an independent —
DEREK EWELL: Yes.
SPENCER MICHELS: What did you hear from the Republicans that might persuade you one way or the other?
DEREK EWELL: Well, what I heard, and I watched a lot of it, and I recorded I think most of it, to me it was “rah, rah, rah” rhetoric. I don’t trust their party. I look at, you know, historically, to me they… they were not for civil rights, they were not for women’s rights, they’re still in that same boat.
They’re insiders. They exclude people. I’m always…
SPENCER MICHELS: They didn’t say any of those things.
DEREK EWELL: Oh, no, but that’s what I think when I hear them saying all this stuff. I don’t believe ’em. And to me, as an independent, it’s not just, you know, the Democrats, the Republicans. I wish there was someone else to look at.
SPENCER MICHELS: Piper Sweeney, you’re a farmer, you’re a staunch Republican. What did you get out of this convention? Was it just a cheering match?
PIPER SWEENEY: You know, I don’t agree with everything, but I… and I don’t really think the convention is to persuade anyone, really, to vote Republican. I think it’s really to energize the Republican Party.
SPENCER MICHELS: What about the fact that the Republicans put forth, at least on one night, several very moderate Republicans. Do you, do you identify with those people or are they too moderate for the party that you’re in?
PIPER SWEENEY: Yeah, they’re more moderate than I am. I’m more conservative. I believe the things that President Bush said at the end talking about family, talking about the rights of the unborn, and those are, those are issues that are close to my heart and important to me. So, I’m not a real moderate Republican.
SPENCER MICHELS: Bertha Ferran, you’re a staunch Democrat. At this point you’re going to vote for Kerry. Did you… how did you react to this convention?
BERTHA FERRAN: The convention seems like it’s something that is planned, like a show for, you know, just to kind of… directed to some folks. And they don’t give the real image of what the Republican Party does once it has been in power.
They have not talked about what the issues are, you know, which are health care, the economy, jobs, home ownership and affordability, you know, for people.
SPENCER MICHELS: President Bush did talk about almost every one of those issues and said things were pretty good.
BERTHA FERRAN: He does not talk about the large deficit that we have and being in the mortgage business, I know what a deficit can do to interest rates down the road, and I fear for that. I have seen homeownerships in the emerging and minority communities go down.
SPENCER MICHELS: Bob Fox, we haven’t heard from you yet. You are undecided but registered as a Republican. Did you like what you heard at this convention?
BOB FOX: It was pretty much what I expected to hear. It is a pep rally for the most part. I was hoping that he would touch a little bit more on stuff that concerns me. He did mention stuff about homeland security. I personally think we’re going about it wrong.
Health care he touched on a little bit, but he didn’t give me any answers. I will go in and the last day I will vote with a clean conscience that I have either picked the lesser or two evils or the best man for the job.
SPENCER MICHELS: At this point do you think there’s something good about either one of those men?
BOB FOX: Oh, I like things about both of them. I once told one of my friends that Bush is, in my mind, a pretty good commander-in-chief, but I don’t know that I’d want him in the field with me. Unlike the veteran swift boaters, I think I’d rather have Kerry watching my back than Bush.
ROSIE FERTIG: He might decide to watch your back and then change his mind
SPENCER MICHELS: Rosie, but you think that this flip-flop issue is a genuine issue?
ROSIE FERTIG: I think it is. I think I can’t trust him. He says one thing and he does something else.
BRYAN MORRIS: You know, Kerry voted for $87 billion, and then voted against it; they try to make it seem like he’s a flip flopper or is not supporting the troops. Kerry voted for 87 billion when there was a pay to pay for it. He didn’t vote for the bill for $87 billion that was just going to increase the deficit with no way to pay for it.
SPENCER MICHELS: The issue of George Bush as commander in chief as protector of this nation came up time and time again at this convention. How did you react to that?
DAVID MONTGOMERY: For me that’s probably the number one issue, if you don’t have security of the nation all the other fun stuff that we’re talking about doesn’t happen. My personal take on it, is someone could be deployed with the military, probably in about six months, is that you can’t put it all in one boat and that’s what they did. They glossed over it.
I think some of the stuff was supportable and some isn’t. And he puts the 9/11 stuff in with Iraq, with Afghanistan, with everything all at once, and I think you can be a little bit more intelligent about it and divide that out.
PIPER SWEENEY: I think for him to go to Iraq was not popular. I think he took the road that he knew could cost him a reelection. I think terrorist, and especially a country supporting a terrorist, has to really consider do they want to go down like Saddam went. And he did go down and, you know, he’s done.
SPENCER MICHELS: I’m wondering your reaction to that, but also wondering, the whole idea of the use of 9/11 in this convention.
ROSIE FERTIG: I didn’t think they overused it. You know, Bryan mentioned that the first few speakers, McCain was one of their first keynote speakers and he didn’t, he did not dis Kerry at all.
But you have Arnold Schwarzenegger who really spoke from the heart. He spoke about his own experience coming over to America. It was very moving.
STEVEN SIMON: Let’s get back to the 9/11 issue, the fact that they were in New York, and a lot of people mentioned 9/11.
GUEST: The Republicans wrap themselves in 9/11, and use Iraq, Afghanistan, Saddam, Taliban, al-Qaida interchangeably. Just kind of makes me sick.
MARY POWELL: I feel honestly, Bush was awesome during 9/11. He really was. And. I think that legitimately he can stand up and say: This is a moment when I shined. As the convention goes that it’s legitimate for Bush to tout his performance during 9/11 and his leadership during 9/11.
SPENCER MICHELS: Bertha, what do you think about that? Was it legitimate use of the issue?
BERTHA FERRAN: Well, I don’t believe that that’s the right thing to do. I think that, you know, that was something that was… I mean, 9/11 and the rallying of everybody around America was, you know, great. But there’s more compelling issues now that need to be decided.
PIPER SWEENEY: The same people who said how in the world could we have let this happen are the same people that say, well, we need to move on to the other issues. And the deal is we need our military.
All the other issues are secondary because if we can’t defend this country, there are no jobs.
SPENCER MICHELS: What else, major issues, that you wanted to hear about, that you either heard a lot about or that you didn’t hear enough about, anything else?
GUEST: I was hoping to hear them… I hear the Republicans a lot say the economy is good, we’re safer, and then that’s it. I mean, they can say it, but it doesn’t make it so. Why do they think that the economy is doing better when everybody knows that the economy let’s talk about why you think we’re safer, because I don’t particularly feel safer.
SPENCER MICHELS: Did anybody change his or her mind about anything from watching this convention or the Democratic Convention? Anybody?
SPENCER MICHELS: Nobody. Thank you all very much for being here.