October 24th, 2008
06:00 PM ET
5 years ago

On the Trail: Republican drives 600 miles to vote for Obama

Aaron Wheeler said he's voting Democrat for the first time ever.
Aaron Wheeler said he's voting Democrat for the first time ever.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNN) - Sometimes you stumble on stories. Thursday was one of those times.

We were outside Veterans’ Memorial in Columbus reporting on early voting. I approached a man with an “ I just voted” sticker on his lapel to ask him whether he’d encountered any lines. The “lines weren’t bad” he said, with a broad smile. Lines were the last thing on Aaron Wheeler’s mind as he explained why he drove 600 miles back to his old hometown from Virginia, where he moved this month, to vote in what he called “one of the proudest days” of his life.

“My family has been Republican for three generations,” he said, but “I knew I had to change and vote Democrat in the first time almost ever.”

Wheeler said he was one of about 16 black Republican delegates at the 2004 GOP convention, and was proud to support George W. Bush.

This time, he said, he did not attend the Republican convention –and decided he would go one step further and vote for Democrat Barack Obama.

What’s influencing his vote? The economy was one factor, he said. But said he he made his decision “when I saw Barack Obama beaten down for no reason by negative things by Palin.”

Wheeler reminisced about marching with Martin Luther King as a boy, and referred to the slain civil rights leader when he told me he voted for Barack Obama… “not just because of his color….but in the words of Dr. King, the content of his character.”

“Tears come out of my eyes as I cast my ballot,” he said. “I voted for Barack Obama today.”


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (391 Responses)
  1. No Bama

    If race is an issue for whites, could it also be an issue for blacks?
    To say that would be racist though wouldn't it?

    October 24, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  2. melanie

    The people of Canada have been more interested than usual in your election. The biggest single reason is the economy, but secondly Obama has caught the attention of folks up here too. Folks across the political spectrum all seem to think the man has talent, intelligence and strength well above the ordinary. I think this man will bring back some trust, respect and integrity that the US has lost internationally over the past eight years. --- good luck and god's speed! We hope he wins with a landslide!

    October 24, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  3. cyrusk

    ONE SHOULD NOT BE JUDGED
    BY THE COLOR OF HIS SKIN
    BUT THE CONTENT OF HIS CHARACTER

    THAT IS BEAUTIFULL.

    October 24, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  4. Educated Young Republicans for OBAMA

    WE ARE ALL WHITE & ALL FORMER REPUBLICANS

    AND WE ALL HAVE ALREADY VOTED FOR OBAMA.

    WE ARE COUNTING ON HAVING A PRESIDENT FOR

    ALL THE WORKING PEOPLE OF THIS GREAT NATION.

    October 24, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  5. Dominican for Obama

    I am so proud of Mr Aaron, I also voted for Obama after 1 1/2 in line. Hispanic for Obama.

    October 24, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  6. John

    My family and I voted for Barack today! The young-ones of six and eight wanted to vote,too. Nevertheless, they understand that they must wait a few more years, and I pray that men of Barack's character will be there for them.

    October 24, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  7. michael

    Sorry JIMMY, not this time REP. have had there chances, IT'S TIME FOR CHANGE!!!!...OBAMA,OBAMA!!

    October 24, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  8. anne

    that is awesome! you voted for the best man!!!! I can't wait to vote for OBAMA on monday. McCain/Palin and Bush/Cheney have shamed America! Only Obama can get us out of the many holes we now our in.

    love from chicago!!

    October 24, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  9. mhamil15

    I can not wait until Nov 4th to cast my vote here in Michigan for Obama.

    October 24, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  10. henrietta

    lets face the man voted from his heart, now what is wrong with that
    yall get a life and go and vote for barack

    October 24, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  11. Coloradoan for change

    John S. –
    I still have goosebumps from reading your post. Thank you so much for acknowledging that there are "true Americans" in our midst (your neighbors to the south). I am truly proud to be an American again (for the first time in a very long time). Thanks for validating that for me!

    October 24, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  12. Charles

    Why do folks have to find fault in a moment of absolute awe? This is something no black person that marched in the civil rights movement thought they would have the opportunity to experience. And while so many think it's purely a black thing (Rush and company) we are so proud and excited because the black candidate is in every the better candidate. He has shown his strength and determination thoughout the campaign process. The campaign process is nothing more than a 2 year long job interview. Who has done the best in their interview? I join Mr. Wheeler in this moment and will shed a tear when I cast my vote on Nov. 4th as well. This truly is the change America needs.

    October 24, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  13. John

    I also felt like I was doing something good for mankind when I voted for Obama.

    October 24, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  14. I knew

    It was too racist

    October 24, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  15. Donna in the USVI

    Early voting seems to be the ticket. I'm in the US Virgin Islands. I flew to DC (I'm a native) and drove 200 miles to central Virginia to cast my vote for change...for Obama. In this battleground Commonwealth, I know how important just one vote will be. My father took pictures as I cast my ballot. On Election Day, I'll peel back my 'I Voted' sticker, down here in America's Paradise. I am so proud and humbled to hear about Aaron Wheeler and to be connected to people like him in all corners of our country and places around the globe who are supporting Barack Obama. CNN, thank you for your coverage and for CNN.com. Despite what people write, you are fair. There are, and will be, so many more stories out there like Aaron's. Indeed, every vote is a story.

    Aaron, I hope you're reading this. I'd kiss you on the cheek if I could, because character does count.

    October 24, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  16. Willy Brown

    I wouldn't drive 6 inches to vote for Hussien Obama the american thug

    October 24, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  17. Jason, VA

    This is a wonderful story. American's, (all American's) are so anxious to turn the page on the last 8 years and move forward as a united country. I cannot wait to vote for change on November 4th! Turn the page and vote for Obama/Biden.

    October 24, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    After witnessing the worst Violence in my home country Kenya a few month ago, I decided to pay close attentions to the American politics to find find out what makes America great and different from the rest of the World. I must say that this has been a very adventurous journey and every single step of the way has been wonderful and very informative. The most valuable lesson I have learnt is to love our neighbors and that it is unfair to discriminate others based on gender, race or religion. Watching blacks inter-mingle with whites while campaigning for their favorite candidates truly says a lot about how far America has come. I hope American will continue with the same spirit of togetherness even after the elections because that's what America should be "United States of AMERICA". May God Bless America and don't forget to Vote for Obama/Biden 2008

    October 24, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  19. michael

    I also will be praying for Obama's grandmother,

    October 24, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  20. COLORADO

    You did the right thing, Mr. Wheeler, and I thank you and all of the other Republicans that did the right thing in supporting Barack Obama. I was a Reagan Republican back in the 80s, but a proud supporter of Barack today. My brother in California has been a life-long Republican, and he early voted for Barack this week. You are not alone, and I am proud of all of you that have made the right choice this election.

    October 24, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  21. First Time Voter

    This is my first time voting in a presidential election and to me I feel like this would be my last so many people show how really hateful they are when people share their stories about why they are voting for barack obama and it has NOTHING to do with him being black im so sick of the racism and yet I will be voting for him because I've heard him speak about education and my future and thats what I think a president should speak about and how does John McCain have any experience being preisdent when he has never been president its a bunch of hypocrisy and I just hope that 8 yrs from now I can say the person that was in office didnt ruin my family and my friends life.

    October 24, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  22. Willie

    I voted absentee and personally dropped the ballot off at the local clerks office. But before I did I made a copy of it and now it is framed and hanging in the family room. When Sen. Obama wins it will not only be history and good for the country, I will have proof that I was a part of it.

    October 24, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  23. gl, Pittsburgh

    It is over for McCain/Palin hate bateing ticket.

    October 24, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  24. HouseDiva

    good for him:)

    barock the vote!

    October 24, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  25. sandee in Portland

    @jimmy....yea, right. I want a leader that made anti-american videos while a POW. Don't think so. McCain is, and has always been, about himself first, country second.

    This wonderful man, on the other hand, is someone who has put his country first by driving 600 miles to vote for the candidate of his choice.

    October 24, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
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