Race, unfamiliarity could defeat Obama in southeast
Wednesday, October 1, 2008 3:13 AM
By Catherine Candisky
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
NEW BOSTON, Ohio -- Tending to the busy lunch counter at Hickie's Hamburger Inn on Rt. 52, Barb Hendrickson explains her dilemma in November's presidential election. Like most other Democrats in southeastern Ohio, Hendrickson, a single mother of two struggling to support her family as a waitress, voted for Sen. Hillary Clinton in the primary.
With Clinton out, Hendrickson says she plans to vote for Republican John McCain. She doesn't trust Democrat Barack Obama. "I just don't feel comfortable with him," said Hendrickson, 36, of neighboring Portsmouth. "I don't think he's being honest about what he's going to do."
The political landscape of the 14-county southeastern region, a swing area of Ohio where chronic unemployment and poverty have left many feeling forgotten, would seem to favor Democrats. But an uneasiness with Obama prevails in Appalachia, and for many it comes down to race.
"I'll be voting for a Republican for the first time in my life," Jeff Justice, a 46-year-old ironworker, said as he finished his lunch at Hickie's. Asked why, Justice, a white former Wheelersburg resident now living in Florida, didn't hesitate."He's black."