October 24th, 2008
06:00 PM ET
10 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. Julie

    Character counts, and Mr. Wheeler, you demonstrated true character in undertaking your 600 mile odyssey.

    May you have a safe drive back to Virginia.

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 24, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    In reply to an earlier post, the previous life of a person is not always a guide to their present suitability for an office. .......TRIED TRUE, TESTED AMERCAN HERO. SILVER STAR, BRONZE STAR, PURPLE HEART. WAR AND COMBAT VETERAN,THAT IS THE TRUE AMERICAN SPIRIT AND AN AMERICAN – – Col Oliver North.

    Sorry Jimmy whoever you are.


    October 24, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  3. X-Republican in Texas for Obama

    I don't think too many voters would drive 600 miles to vote for McCain, heck I wouldn't drive 6 miles. Aaron should be an example for all those who choose to stay home and not vote. Our family have been registered Republicans for a very long time. This year we voted for the candidate we felt would lead this country in the right direction.


    October 24, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  4. chad in avery, ca.

    welcome to the future!

    October 24, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  5. Shawn

    Congrats to u for driving 600 miles to vote, I would have driven 1000 if I had to to vote for Obama, our country os definitely in need of a change, I just hate my grandmother didn't live to see this day, because I am positive she would have voted for Obama as well, but when I cast my vote on Nov. 4th I will be voting for the both of us

    Obama '08

    October 24, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  6. Karl Clark

    Mr. Wheeler, you went above the rhetoric and casted a conscious vote. You took your time, listened to the the issues, and made that every vaulted decision. Whether a Democrat or Republican, you made a conscious choice that must be respected. Thank you for your story.

    October 24, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |

    I'm a former Republican and I also voted for Barack Obama on Monday in TEXAS.

    I want to see TEXAS turn BLUE.

    Barack Obama is going to be one of America's greatest Presidents.

    Obama/Joe "the Senator"

    October 24, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  8. Green Berets for Obama

    I wish that I'd had a President like Obama to serve under during my years in the service. He is a truly inspiring leader, his color has nothing to do with it.

    October 24, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  9. TheRealThing

    Sir, I hope this vote will not be your last either.

    October 24, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  10. Martha Hussein Baker for Barack

    Finally a candidate we can all believe in! Kudos to my fellow Obama voter!


    October 24, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  11. frank

    This man has more integrity than the whole ship of fools in power.

    October 24, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  12. Jay

    Looking at the Economy and failed Bush policies affecting everyone of us, there is an urgency for change. Quoting MLK jr. " The Urgency of Now." Race shouldn't be an obstacle. At the end, we are all in this together!

    Obama '08!!

    October 24, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  13. Yea!! but....

    why didn't he just register to vote in Virginia?

    But I love how nobody is really complaining too much about the lines and the waits. People know that it's worth it. Well worth it. 🙂

    October 24, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  14. Joanna

    To the rew bitter Republicans posting: please! let it go!
    We're all Americans FIRST! You've had the last eight years, it time for a different "party" (And I'd really be thrilled if it were a 3rd party, but alas, I doubt that day will ever come).

    It's time to set aside our differences and remember we're all in this together! Freedom of opinion, Freedom of speech, Freedom of ideas, Freedom of thought, Freedom of religion!!! It's not just for the few, it's for the many!

    October 24, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  15. Oregonian for Obama/Biden

    Terrific article. I'm not surprised in the least that someone would drive 600 miles to vote for Barack Obama.

    My vote is already cast and I encourage all voters supporting Barack Obama to vote as soon as you can....

    Don't gloat... Vote!!!

    Obama/Biden 2008!!!

    October 24, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  16. Cindy in Atlanta

    New Media, pay attention...people like this will be the Bradley factor in 2008.

    VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!!!!


    October 24, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  17. Jason

    Wow, you all are crazy! I mean, crazy. It's one thing to support your candidate because you support their policies and character – it is another to be so off the cliff that you can relate any news story to the coming of your savior. Let's be frank – you know deep, deep inside, this man is voting for Obama because of his race. Can you blame him? I don't know. I know that as a white man, I can't fully understand the challanges of being black in this country. What kills me is when people won't call a spade a spade. Don't lie to me. You don't have to make excuses to me. Just tell it like it is. The news stories are getting more vicious – if Obama wins, there will be trouble. If McCain wins, their will be riots. America is crazy if they think that they have beat the issue of racial prejudice in this country. God help us all on election day. I'm not sure there is a good answer.

    October 24, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  18. phili

    I am voting in a presidential election for the first time and I am proud to say that, it will be for Obama. I know the media claims that young people don't vote but I am one of them. Because NY is a blue state it does not really get a lot of attention in the media I know that every vote counts. I can't hardly wait to see nov 4 because change is coming to America.

    October 24, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  19. Sue

    I voted early for the first time in 4 election cycles. Can't wait for change!

    October 24, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  20. Glenda

    After reading this story and listening to McCain/Palin hammer Obama I wonder how come more Republicans are not switching over. As a 65 year old woman who has seen what 8 years of Bush has done to my retirement account, the prices we are paying across the board because of what this war has cost in lives and our stature. I hope that all ex republicans vote for OBAMA/BIDEN

    October 24, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  21. Claire

    So much for Martin Luther King's dream that his four little children would one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

    Looks like Pastor Wheeler chose to vote based on the color of 0bama's skin because God knows the man's character is sorely lacking content. All one has to do is look at the list of his friends and those photos of his mama to know what kind of man he really is.

    October 24, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  22. R-Howard

    Hey Robert erickson, that was a very calculated,premeditated, violent verbal attack. Who's the phychopath? If the inbred,knife wielding commentary fits then....

    October 24, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  23. Dave,Georgia

    My eyes was full of tears,What a great storey,America needs to be a model for the rest of the world.

    October 24, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  24. Rafa

    Apart from the very moving story... and part of it also... Barack Obama for President, not only in November 4 or January 20, but now!!! From Spain, and wishing I could be elegible in any of the swing states (including many new ones!), I cast a very early vote (a dream vote at least) for that powerful and wonderful ticket Obama/Biden! You need it in America, we need it all over the world. Things can change and it's in us to change them cause they won't turn around by themselves. YES, WE CAN!!!! (Will be awake all night to tell my grand kids -whenever they want to be present in this world- that I too was witness of the victory of a message of a very necessary change)

    October 24, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  25. MaryJane

    v.ananthan....you should be investigated by the Secret Service. Your remarks sound like a threat!

    October 24, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
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