A quick sale for Obama in Indiana

May 4, 2008 9:25:13 PM PDT
Kenneth Fawley decided early that Barack Obama was his presidential candidate of choice. Now he's affirmed that by voting early. "As soon as he announced he was running - that's when I made my decision," said Fawley, 70, living in retirement with his wife Caroline just outside of Pierceton in northern Indiana. "I had my eye on him for a long time before he even announced it." That was due to Obama's highly regarded speech at the 2004 Democratic convention, when he was unknown to most Americans.

Fawley, a father of two, supervised workers making electrical harnesses for fridges at a plant that closed three months after his retirement. Caroline was a keypunch operator when she wasn't looking after the home. She's a Hillary Clinton supporter.

Obama is hoping to make inroads with blue-collar whites in Indiana's Democratic primary Tuesday, a contest that seems close. He's favored in North Carolina, which is voting the same day. Clinton has done better in the primaries with working-class white voters as well as older ones.

But Obama closed the sale with Fawley, who has already cast his absentee ballot.

What makes a voter decide out of the gate?

For Fawley, it was a feeling that the Illinois senator could be unifying and effective in office. That belief has transcended Obama's campaign troubles and shifting polls that now suggest the economy is the main concern of voters, taking over from the Iraq war.

"There's a diverse population in this country and I think that he just represents the kind of candidate that might bring people together," said Fawley, who is white.

"There's not a whole lot of differences as far as issues are concerned between Hillary and Obama. There's too much partisan in her. I think in the end, Obama can get more done in Congress - I think that he can bring forces together that she can't."

He's impressed that Obama was against the war all along, because so was he.

"I told my different friends prior to this war that this is a mistake. Let's face it, Obama had it right from the start. Hillary did not. I think that the fact she was running for president influenced her vote on that. ... I don't know how truthful she is all the time."