- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 2, 2008

Catching up with some of the “real Americans,” who shared their thoughts with yours truly during this long, long, long presidential election process, about the only thing they agreed about is their glee that the “nastiest campaign” is almost over.

“I’m absolutely sick of it, … the lack of ethics in this campaign; let’s get this election behind us,” said Joan Crawford, a Republican from Greenville, Miss.

This private high school teacher, who talked to me earlier about women’s issues, said she is even more upset that the dishonest “gutter” campaigning in the local and state level elections has been even nastier than on the presidential level.

“I’m just looking for the truth,” said Mrs. Crawford, a supporter of Sen. John McCain. She joked that “I have to take a blood pressure pill” after watching election coverage on the television.

Closer to the nation’s capital, “Barb,” an independent Fairfax County housewife, said: “I just want it to be done; it goes on too long that it’s almost obscene.”

The mother of six children, one of them with Down syndrome, who is trying to make ends meet in this tight economy, understandably said, “All the money that’s being spent on TV commercials and jet travel seems so wasteful.”

Indeed, the 2008 presidential campaign has lasted so long that Joan Sadoff, a Philadelphia Democrat, watched her lonely support for Sen. Barack Obama’s fledgling candidacy take hold over her cadre of 70-something friends so that today only one of them is a holdout against him.

“We’re in the last leg of the journey,” said Mrs. Sadoff, a documentary filmmaker. She was cleaning up after a get-out-the-vote training session in her living room that featured Fran Schumer, the sister of the New York senator, when we spoke on Friday.

“What are we going to do next Friday? I’m going to miss the addiction,” said Mrs. Sadoff, who spent her own money to volunteer at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Democrat Anniken Davenport - a lawyer, educator and small-businesswoman from Harrisburg, Pa. - was the only one to say “I’m not electioned-out yet,” though she also said she’ll “be glad when it’s over.”

However, Mrs. Davenport is “not as confident” and “getting a little nervous” because the race seems closer than polls indicate, particularly in the “Pennsyl-tucky” part of her battleground state.

Checking in with these informed and passionate women confirmed what some of the polls are indicating that decided voters have solidified their choices. Only Barb, a pro-life Catholic, was sitting on the fence until the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn.

“Oh yes, we’ve decided,” Barb said about the way she and her husband, Pat, a bank administrator, are casting their ballot on Tuesday. “When John McCain picked Sarah Palin as vice president, he got our vote.”

And they went to see and hear the Alaska governor when she spoke at a Fairfax County park.

Their choice comes even though, as she acknowledged, the couple is concerned about health care costs and they would “definitely benefit from the tax changes particularly that Senator Obama proposed.”

But “the tax side is not the biggest selling part for me,” she said.

Barb said that even though the campaign season has lasted so long, “it’s a sad state of affairs” because the average voter has a hard time deciphering the truth watching campaign commercials. “The campaigns are run on sound bites that make everybody else look bad instead of telling people what you really feel” about the issues.

Also, “it’s hard to get all worked up about [the election] because at the national level, it doesn’t affect my life.” It’s just another four years, Barb said.

Not so for Mrs. Sadoff, who said “the passion is greater today” for her candidate.

“This election is different from any other and has the potential to change this country on every front and I think Obama is the person to make it happen,” said Mrs. Sadoff, who often points to the Illinois senator’s intellect and the image she hopes he will present to the rest of the world. Foreign policy is her main issue.

“I think if we can elect a black president, with our history of racism, it helps the image of America just about more than anything else in the world,” she said.

Mrs. Sadoff said she doesn’t believe people when they say they are undecided this late in the game. Just as when they “say they don’t trust [Obama], which to me is a code that they don’t want to vote for a black man … they are looking for an excuse and just waiting for the right one.”

She charged Mr. McCain with playing the “fear factor” and hopes that Mr. Obama will win by a landslide so he will have a mandate and “know that the people of the country are behind him.”

Living in central Pennsylvania, Mrs. Davenport is worried that of Mr. McCain’s latest strategies, like “Joe the Plumber,” and “Marxist” are resonating, which “I find shocking.” She faults the lack of education for some of the misconceptions but that might “be my Eastern, elite point of view,” she quipped.

Mrs. Davenport is concerned about the high cost of health care, and she thinks Mr. Obama’s plan “is a better stab at it than the idiotic tax credits that McCain proposes.”

Her support for Mr. Obama solidified after the presidential debates. “This is the time for cool, calm heads of state and not people who don’t have a plan like McCain.”

The issue of experience or lack thereof, is not relevant for her because “nobody’s that experienced.”

“What Obama does not have in direct experience, he makes up in temperament,” she said. Also, “his on-the-ground [campaign] organization is absolutely superb,” which indicates to her that “he might be better than others at running a huge bureaucracy.”

Experience is a key factor for Mrs. Crawford, too. However, she questions Mr. Obama’s experience, which made her soft support of Mr. McCain stronger. She is “not fooled” about Mrs. Palin but discounts her lack of national experience because “she’s vice president and I’m not counting on the president dying in office.”

Mrs. Crawford quickly added that “my vote is not against a black man but against the lack of experience. When I hit the experience button, it just doesn’t translate.”

But her biggest concern is what happens to the country after this divisive “real American” campaign. Sadly, Mrs. Crawford asks, “Where is America in all this? We’re so partisan; we’ve long since lost what the nation is.”

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