ABOARD THE ELECTION EXPRESS, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (CNN) – Gene Hall didn’t watch Monday night’s Democratic presidential debate. The 46-year-old father of four was working – delivering pizzas until late into the night.
It was Hall’s second shift of the day. Earlier, he was behind the wheel of his Beach Boy taxi. Hall told me he has no insurance - when one of his children needs to go to the doctor, he pays out of his own pocket.
“If I was to get sick for two or three days, I am in trouble,” he said.
The plight of the uninsured is a central theme in this year’s presidential race. But unlike many people who are calling for a universal health care plan, Hall doesn’t think that is the answer.
“Somebody is going to have to pay for it,” said Hall, who added he thinks it would mean an increase in taxes. A tax increase is a hit to the wallet that Hall cannot afford.
Hall said that before our conversation, he had been talking to his wife about how to pay this month’s bills. What remained would go to groceries, he said.
Hall said he is not supporting any particular candidate, and does not even identify himself with a particular political party. One thing is for certain, Hall is no fan of Hillary Clinton.
“She just seems wishy-washy,” he said. “I think she tells people what she wants they want to hear.”
As for Obama, Hall seems intrigued, but added he is concerned about his religion. Obama, a Christian, has been forced to bat down erroneous rumors that he is a Muslim and was educated in a radical madrassa.
“His religion scares me,” Hall said. “They say he is a Christian.”
When I tell him that he is in fact a Christian, Hall seems a bit relieved. But if Hall still thinks that Obama is a radical Muslim, surely other voters must as well. Unfortunately for Obama, the madrassa rumor still lives on. As for John Edwards, a South Carolina son, Hall can’t even recall his name.
Perhaps Tuesday night that will all change. Hall taped the debate that was sponsored by CNN and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. He is going to give the candidates another look - his vote is up for grabs.
What is he looking for in a candidate?
“Somebody that is going to look out for us,” he said.
And he hasn’t ruled out voting for a Republican in November.
– CNN Political Editor Mark Preston