At the Red Arrow, a Journey from the GOP to Obama
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- The Trail readers who followed this page during the presidential primaries may recall the story of Elaine Boule, the manager of the Red Arrow Diner, one of this heavy-contested city's most popular eating establishments. Several candidates stopped by the boxcar-sized diner in search of votes last year, including Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, Rudy Giuliani, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson and Mitt Romney.
Boule emerged as a central character in The Post's "At the Diners" series, as she told The Trail about her brother-in-law who died during the Iraq war and about her decision to not pay into the Red Arrow's employee health care plan because of the high costs. The registered Republican also publicly wooed Clinton, who eventually visited the diner and won Boule's vote in the January primary.
Ten months later, following Clinton's loss, with an improving situation in Iraq and a worsening economic climate, Boule says it took her until the last presidential debate to decide between Obama and John McCain.
"Back in January, when I originally voted for Hillary, my main issue was the war. I was concentrating more on the war than anything else. Now I think the economy is more what I'm thinking about," she says. She couldn't help but notice that Obama's presence on stage during the debates also made him appear more presidential than McCain.
"John McCain is a little too wishy-washy. I understand that he was in the service and he's a war hero, and he's very good about what's going to go on with the war. I appreciate his service. I don't think he'll make the next best president," she says.
The arc of Boule's political thinking in the last year, from her concerns about the Iraq war and paying for health care to her uncertainty about the economy, seems to mirror the thinking of voters nationwide. Polls show that the economy began to trump the Iraq war as the main issue of concern earlier this year.
Boule is still a registered Republican and, if John McCain loses, she's not sure which Republicans should run for president in 2012.
"I guess it's going to depend on how well Barack Obama does. I wish him well. I think this is a really bad time for somebody to become our next president. Because I think that whoever becomes president, they're going to have a tough time. You can't please everybody. Everybody's not going to be happy. There are going to be things that he does that won't make me happy," she says.
Web Politics Editor
October 21, 2008; 11:54 AM ET
Categories: Barack Obama , Battlegrounds , Hillary Rodham Clinton , John McCain
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