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— Jessica responds, "That is one thing that makes me nervous, but I'm not going to vote for somebody who's going to do a whole range of things based on one issue. I'd like to think the chance of abortion ever being outlawed is pretty slim, though I suppose it could happen. A lot of times -- and I don't know if this is the case with Bush or not -- Republican candidates want to gather the pro-life vote. It's such a safe thing in the Republican Party, because so many pro-life people do vote based on just that one issue. Sometimes, candidates maximize their pro-life stance more than they might really [believe]."

And it is that "whole range of issues" that really concerns Jessica. "I can just foresee Gore doing a lot more damage...in the next four or eight years with governmental controls. Even if Bush goes in and doesn't do anything, I would rather have that than a whole bunch of government imposition that I disagree with." She stresses that she would rather have voted for McCain, who said what he thought and seemed less a career politician.

For her part, Erin thinks "Bush is an idiot" who, during the debates, "looked so nervous, like he had no clue what he was going to say, struggling to pull out impressive words and phrases." She likes Gore's education platform, believing that public schools need a great deal of help and that vouchers will not provide a solution to our education woes.

When I ask if her friends are voting, she mentions that one of her family friends "has been doing a lot of research about Bush and is sending me pro-Gore e-mails with all this bad information about Bush. I'm forwarding them to all of my friends, so hopefully that's helped influence them one way or another."

David, though he is voting for Gore, echoes Jessica's thought on abortion's status. "That's a major factor as far as women go; it's not a major factor for me. Being pro-life is definitely an issue, but running the United States efficiently is a different issue, in my mind." Gore is getting his vote because "I don't feel safe with Bush in the White House. Gore's already had experience; he's been there already. I watched part of the debate, and in my perspective, Gore seemed more professional, smarter...Gore gave an answer, Bush gave a smile. That's how I viewed it."

David's friend Logan is casting his lot with Bush. Like Jeff and Daniel, he begins by mentioning his party. "I don't know too much, to be honest, but my parents are conservatives, so I'm just following what they believe in. I'm not just a sheep, following my parents -- I read the paper, watch the news, CNN, CNBC, Crossfire -- but I believe in them, too. Basically, it's Bush all the way; always vote Republican. And he's a better man. They're all crooked; they all do what they can to get into office, but I think he's a little bit better person."

In particular, Logan dislikes Gore's tax policy -- "Why bust your ass and give it back?" -- and the likelihood that Gore will further decrease military spending. "I don't think that's too good for our country. I want to be able to go to sleep at night. Maybe Reagan overdid it a little bit, but shit, we need to have some kind of defense. And we're losing good people in the military because there's no funding." Is there a serious military threat to the U.S.? "Yeah. China, the dark horse." He agrees with the notion that Bush has to "kind of act like he cares about [abortion], because if he didn't, he'd lose a lot of people."

A fellow who wishes to remain anonymous hammers home the Republican line. "I'm going to vote for Bush because my family's been with the Republican Party for as long as I can remember." He grants that he's "kind of in the dark on the elections this year" and that "there's this image thing that I put too much emphasis on," which colors his impression of Gore. "I think the man looks too much like a robot." He brings up abortion, citing his pro-choice status, and says that he's "not too high on either candidate. I liked George Bush, Sr.'s war efforts, and that's kind of influencing my vote for his son. It's going to come down to me staying with the Republican Party."

Valita, Tonisha, and Alex, on the other hand, join Kenneth in identifying themselves first and foremost as voting Democrat, rather than as voting for Al Gore. Valita likes what the current administration "has done for education thus far, and I don't want it to stop as far as access, heavy emphasis placed on making sure that children are learning. What Bush is talking about [in Texas], he didn't start. A woman started it before him, and he just picked up on it and got the rewards. So, he really hasn't done anything for education." As for her own schooling, "There's been more financial aid available, and then, if you have to take out loans, there's more ways to have it absorbed." She also feels that Bush "has no international ties. And I think the Middle East remembers his father very well, and if he gets in office, they're not going to talk to him."

R�ul, who identifies himself as undecided, counters that, "as far as the Clinton Administration, when you look at all the bombings that we've done recently for stupid reasons, that puts us in a questionable position. I think Gore is compelled to be tied to Clinton. He's in a position where you don't want to denounce all the things the president's done, but at the same time, you want to try to separate yourself from him to show that you're your own person. It's kind of tough."

Valita, warming to this notion, agrees that while she's "benefiting thus far" from Clinton's administration, she is not happy with his bombing policies. She mentions the pharmaceutical plant that was supposed to have been manufacturing chemical weapons. "They knew exactly what was going on in there. They knew what it was and they bombed it."

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