Dems' convention shores up support

Steamboat residents reflect on politics

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Three days after the Democratic National Convention ended in Boston, response to the event by Steamboat Springs' residents appears evenly divided. Many of those predisposed toward John Kerry remained so, and many leaning toward President Bush stayed with Bush. The convention did seem to further strengthen the feelings of Kerry supporters, however, and several Republicans tipped their hats at the energy and effectiveness of the Democrats' speeches.

"I thought it was exciting. The Democrats united together to show support for Kerry, and they stayed away from bashing Bush, which was nice," Barry Snader said.

For him, some of the topics the Democrats discussed most effectively were stem-cell research and the "need to bring in allies to defray the cost of the Iraq war," he said.

Although Snader favored Kerry before the convention began, he said it solidified his support.

"It made me feel better about the candidates because I didn't know as much about them in advance," he said.

Snader's wife, Meredith Snader, found it interesting that Ron Reagan Jr. spoke at the convention, especially with the approval of Nancy Reagan.

"I think it's wonderful that he and Nancy Reagan are standing on their principles and not on party lines," she said.

Scott Hoing, who watched three of the convention's four nights, also thought the convention was effective.

"They were great. The keynote speakers were articulate and good at carrying across their message," Hoing said.

He found former President Clinton's speech and Teresa Heinz Kerry's speeches especially compelling, he said. Hoing said the most important issues in the election will be the Iraq war, the economy, health care and people's general feelings about the candidates. The Democrats were especially savvy toward the latter, he said.

"The Republicans tend to portray anyone who disagrees with them as unpatriotic, but the Democrats did a good job of showing their own patriotism," he said.

Not everyone shared Hoing's opinion. Republican Jason Cole, who watched news coverage of the convention, thought Kerry was out of touch with everyday people.

"They're a bunch of elitists. Kerry, with all of his money, is just trying to act like one of the people," he said.

Cole said he supports Bush because he acts more on his moral principles than Kerry. The Democrats need to behave likewise if they want to regain power, Cole said.

"If the Democrats want to be something, they need to go back to the principles of J.F.K.," Cole said.

Republican Raymond David Aycock had a more mixed reaction to the convention. Although it didn't change his decision to vote for Bush, whom Aycock said embraces his values more, the convention had a lot of energy and shined a better light on Kerry, he said.

"There was a lot of excitement. Kerry seems to have the best shot. He seems pretty solid," Aycock said.

Other than that, Aycock thought many of the speeches, like most political speeches, were wishy-washy, he said.

"It was a lot of rhetoric -- free bubble-up, rainbow stew, promise-you-the-moon, BMW-you're-never-going-to-drive rhetoric," he said.

As for measuring the convention's effect on undecided voters in Steamboat, the difficult part is finding them. Nationwide, only 21 percent of voters are undecided, compared to 32 percent in 2000, a PEW poll concluded in June. Within the swing group, 8 percent lean toward Bush and 7 percent toward Kerry. The race is equally tight among the decided voters, with polls showing Kerry and Bush in a statistical tie with 40 percent for Bush and 39 percent for Kerry.

--To reach Kristin Bjornsen, call 879-1502

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