Half of them might vote for Bush, half might not

click to enlarge Donald Steadham, Foley, Ala. - Jim Stawniak
Jim Stawniak
Donald Steadham, Foley, Ala.

"Half of them might vote for Bush, half might not," says Joey Smith, who works at the Gateway Tire Center in Corinth, Miss. Smith was talking about his co-workers, but his sentiments about sum up the South. Here's a scattering of what we heard.

Dennis Machado, Smith's colleague at Gateway: "I'm voting for 'none of the above.'"

Jennifer Perry, a waitress at Sarge's Shack, Pulaski, Tenn.: "I'm very patriotic, born and raised Republican. My whole family, everyone, even my uncles, is Republican. They're all for Bush."

Linda Beecham, Jennifer Perry's mom, chuckling at her daughter's comment: "I want Bush out of office as soon as possible. Everything is being taken away from common people. What has Bush done to protect us? Absolutely nothing."

Tom Beecham, Linda's husband: "No comment. I'm not a Democrat, if that helps. I have to live with this woman."

Morris Williams, Lawrenceburg, Tenn.: "I'm not a member of any political party. My first vote for president was for Richard Nixon. I still think he was maligned. I just size up the individual. I supported the first George Bush. I did not support the present George Bush, and I won't again. I don't find him to be qualified, and I strongly don't agree with our entry into Iraq."

Becky Williams, Morris' wife, who is very proud of her fried apple and blueberry pies: "You shouldn't mix pies and politics."

Ralph Crain, watching a high-stakes game of checkers played with wine bottle caps between Bobby Owen and Tony Ingram in Holly Springs, Miss.: "Ain't never voted, and I don't see why I should. This game is a lot more important than any voting."

Storm, one of the dancers from the Caberet near Memphis: "I have a religious thing against government. In the Bible, it says one person will rule the world before Jesus comes, and that person is the Antichrist. He's supposed to declare world rule. The only person I know who's trying to do that is George Bush."

Donald Steadham, retired polo pony blacksmith from Foley, Ala.: "I'll vote for Kerry. Hell, yes. I'm a Democrat. I can tell you this about Kerry, he's not a Republican. Bush ain't done nothing for us, you know that. We didn't have no damn business over there in EYE-rack."

Nancy Belemere, who drives a horse-drawn carriage in New Orleans' French Quarter: "The world hates us, and that's got to stop. Down here in the French Quarter, there are a lot of progressive people. We're working people. ... In the Quarter, we're for Kerry. Uptown, where the money is, it's Bush country."

Barbara Turner, Greenville, Ga.: "I have to stay with Bush. We can't make a change in the middle of a war. I understand about the economy and all. Even if I liked Kerry more, and maybe I do, I'd still say I have to stay with Bush."

Kim Snow, Libertarian candidate for the Florida Legislature, Tampa: "The PATRIOT Act is a big issue. These so-called conservatives are killing our liberties. That law violates our core civil liberties. We cannot give away our liberties out of fear. Trading freedom for security will not lead to a better nation."

Harry Teasley, past chairman of the libertarian Reason Foundation, Tampa: "This [presidential race] is the worst choice we've ever had. Who they're giving money to may be different, but the outcome is the same."

Ed McNeely, pastor of Mission by the Sea, Alligator Point, Fla.: "I think my neighbor has got the hurricanes figured out. He told me, 'I think it's Bush. Look how one hit Florida, went to Washington D.C. and came back around to Texas. Bush, Bush and Bush.' He has this sign in his front yard: 'I'm a U.S. citizen, and I approved this message: No more Bush.'"

Jilverto Gutierrez and Gustavo Mendoza, construction workers, Charleston, S.C. Both speak fluent English, but when asked about politics, they shake their heads and Mendoza smiles: "No comprendo mucho."

Al Rushing, owner of New Orleans Cigar Factory: "No politics in here. I say something political, and half the people leave. No opinions in here."

Mike Jones, Acona, Miss.: "If there was a politician that would step up and promise to get rid of 90 percent of government, that's who I'd vote for."

Pat McVey, Helena, Ark.: "Most of us would vote for [Bill] Clinton in a heartbeat. He knows how to get along. Rich folks back Bush, poor folks back Kerry. There aren't enough rich folks here to elect anyone."

Willie Lee Anderson, Lula, Miss.: "So, I think I'm voting for [Al] Gore. I know Gore isn't running. But he won last time and they wouldn't let him be president. So I'm for voting for him again. But if I can't, I'll vote for Kerry. I'm a Democrat. I don't know no sensible black man or woman who isn't a Democrat."

Phyllis Firetag Hyman, in front of her family's seafood restaurant, Charleston, S.C.: "My son doesn't like me to talk about politics and religion. But I'm not very good at taking orders. I saw that movie Fahrenheit 9/11, and I'm sorry, but you can't convince me Bush isn't the right man for the job. Bush is such a wonderful supporter of Israel, so that's why I support him. But a lot of my Jewish friends don't feel that way. They'll vote for Kerry. That's what America is all about, isn't it? We're all still friends, I hope, after the election."

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