Democratic National Convention
Sunday, August 13, 2000

Voters' interest level varies

Not all impressed by political conventions

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HIGHLAND HEIGHTS — Woody Barnes can't wait for the Democratic National Convention to begin.

        Vicki Sebastian couldn't care less about it.

        “It's important to see what the candidates and par ty leaders are talking about,” said Mr. Barnes, 47, a father of two and a college instructor who lives in Fort Thomas. “I watched the Republicans, and I'm looking forward to the Democrats.”

        “I didn't watch the Republicans, and I won't watch the Democrats,” said Mrs. Sebastian, 28, of Highland Heights, a manager at a Shell gas station and a mother of one.

        “They do nothing to inspire me. It's not worth even turning on the TV.”

        These and other comments from a cross section of voters in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties showed the stark contrast in people's opinions about the presidential race.

        Voters seemed to be either closely in tune with the political conventions or completely turned off by the confabs the parties use to nominate their candidates and publicize their platforms.

        The Republicans nominated the ticket of Texas Gov. George W. Bush and former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney during their convention in Philadelphia, which ended Aug. 10.

        Vice president Al Gore and his running mate, Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, will be nominated during the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, which runs Mondaythrough Thursday.

        Mr. Barnes, a registered independent leaning toward voting Democratic, said he was impressed with the solidarity Republicans showed during their convention.

        “But I did not see the kind of passion I was hoping for for the common man, the underserved,” he said.

        “That's what draws me to a political party or candidate, and I feel that was embodied in a man like (Arizona Senator) John McCain. I was sorry to see he was not the (Republican) nominee.”

        Mr. Barnes said that while he expects a lot of talk from the Democrats about the economy, he is more interested in the party's “broader” agenda.

        “The Democrats are good at raising the conscience of this country,” he said. “They are slightly idealistic, but at least they deserve credit for bringing these (social) issues up.”

        Tom Schadler, 55, who operates a two-chair barber shop, said he votes Democratic “because they are for the working man.”

        “I watched a little of the Republicans, but I plan to watch more of the Democrats,” Mr. Schadler said. “They seem to care more about everyday people like me and a lot of my customers and the people who live and work around here.”

        But Edgewood Republican Mark Wehry, 36, a senior computer analyst and father of two, said he believes people are “fed up” with the Clinton administration and bitter over the Lewinsky scandal, particularly the lurid details about the affair.

        A self-described “political junkie” who attended the pre-convention rally Mr. Bush held July 29 in Devou Park, Mr. Wehry said he was able to make his way through the crowd and shake the Texas governor's hand.

        “I looked him in the eye and told him I'm looking forward to being able to watch TV with my kids and not turn it off when news about the president comes on,” Mr. Wehry said.

        “He looked at me and said, "That's the least we are going to do. I guarantee it.' People want that kind of moral leadership back in the White House. That's why George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are going to win,” he said.

        Rose Harris is interested. The 50-year-old Walton resident, a clerk at Walton Family Pharmacy, watched “a little” of the Republican convention and plans to tune in to the Democratic convention.

        “I liked the Republican convention, and I like George Bush,” said Ms. Harris, seated on a bench along Walton's Main Street during a cigarette break.

        “I voted for his dad, and I think George W. Bush has the same integrity as his father,” she said.

        “I think that's important. I'm a Democrat, but I think we need a change, and I'm probably going to vote Republican.”

        Gary Bonar, who works at Moto Tech Racing on Ky. 16 in Taylor Mill, said he doesn't really care who is running or what they're saying.

        “Why would I want to watch” the conventions, Mr. Bonar asked as he unpacked a box of motorbike brake rotors.

        “They tell people what they want to hear. I don't need any of that.”