October 24th, 2008
06:00 PM ET
9 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. mk

    I don't think there are words to describe how good that story makes me fee.

    October 24, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  2. ShirleyY - Seattle


    October 24, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |

    this election is going to trump race, color, party, religion and the divisiveness and petty politics by the republiklans...after 8yrs of bush, i need change.


    October 24, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  4. Pahleeeeese

    If this was a story for McCain/Palin you fools would rake him over the coals.. be real here folks you lefty's are sickening..

    October 24, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  5. Marie Canada

    After following this election very close I think the world is in for a pleasant surprise in November. I am convinced Obama is going to be elected in a landslide.

    There are just too many sensible people to vote Republican because of party affiliation when the future of their country is at stake. McCain is definitely not presidential material and appears very unstable not to mention Palin who would be hard pressed to put a couple of sentences together coherently if they weren't written out for her beforehand.

    October 24, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  6. Ruth, So. Cal

    Wow, Aaron you are an awesome man! Obama and his team thank you!


    October 24, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  7. TrendyMac

    Turnabout is fair play...

    I want to reply to Sarahs latest "subtle" atack re: Ayers & Wright; by asking everyone: What did those Characters see in Todd & Sarah at the A.I.P. [Unrepentant Secesssionist-Joe Vogel[ & [Rev, Muthee] the WitchCraft Excorcist ? 🙂

    October 24, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  8. Mary Anne

    The negative campaign from Sara Palin and Mccain have run many voters to Barack.

    October 24, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  9. DEX

    Proud to be an American today. As Americans we are finally staring to live up the creeds we decry to the rest of the world. We the people are moving this great country forward in God's will. Can you feel it my fellow Americans? We are evolving. Wow what a time to be living.

    October 24, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  10. Republican Voting OBAMA


    October 24, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  11. Buckeye

    When white Democrats vote for McCain, it portrayed as racist. So when black Republicans vote for Obama, why is that not also racist?

    October 24, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  12. republican voting for obama

    we need more people like Aaron who can see mcbush and palin for who they are.

    thanks so much. i am switching too.

    go obama

    October 24, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  13. Chris

    This guy represents something that happened to a lot of black people in this election

    I too decided to turn away form John McCain when he resulted to extremely negative campaigning and actually using racially tinged code-words.

    McCain/Palin will obviously deny that their campaign has been negative or even racially divisive, but the reaction from their supporters only confirms the response that McCain/Palin wanted from their rallies.

    They purposely incited hatred and planted the seeds of hatred.

    I have lost my long held respect of John McCain, and so have many other republicans.

    October 24, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  14. VetRepCon4Change

    I'm White, I'm a veteran, I'm a christian, and I'm a Republican!

    I would swim 600 miles to vote for Obama! And yes, it IS 100% about the content of his character.

    McCain WAS a good man. But no matter how much my fellow GOP try to deny it, the man is not fit to run any more. He has lost all of his honor. He truly is a stain upon the fabric of the American Political Scene. And out of respect for my party (perhaps former party, I'm not leaving it yet, but I don't know if it will ever be back after what McCain has allowed it to be mistaken as), I refuse to discuss Palin, I think that say's it all!

    In a time when neither candidate is the perfect choice, I must go with the one that has shown true leadership, the one that has shown restraint and the one who has maintained his honor..and at the same time...shown me he is tough enough to soundly whoop the pants off a supposed rough and tough war hero. Obama, with pride I salute you!

    October 24, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  15. Oregon speaks

    God bless you Mr. Wheeler. There is still hope for Doctor King's dream. I have voted for the republican candidate for president for years but no more. Oregon is going for Obama. I can not wait for November 4th at 8 pm Pacific. By 9 pm we will have to start practicing saying President Obama.

    October 24, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  16. Catholic-mom-4-OBAMA




    October 24, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  17. Susan

    I am for Obama too.....but his campaign has 'beaten down Palin' also.

    This has been a super negative campaign from BOTH sides.

    October 24, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  18. Nick

    Vote early, Vote often!!

    October 24, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  19. Stuart Holmes

    Fantastic story...America has changed, Barack respresents the best in America and unfortunately, Sen. McCain has shown that he is out of touch with the issues we face. I too voted early and must say that the vast majority of people in there were eagerly voting for Barack.

    October 24, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  20. Helen

    Oh please - what was so negative? I hope you would have to shed much more tears 1 year from Obama being elected.

    October 24, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  21. Cynthia; Bham

    My exact sentiment – not the color of his skin but the content of his character plus my pocketbook.

    October 24, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  22. values

    Good man god bless you.Obama....08

    October 24, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  23. Joe the Real Plumber for Obama

    Great story. Stories like this are occuring across the country, and that is why Barack Obama is going to be our next President. Way to go Sir!

    October 24, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  24. No Hillary = No Obama

    And CNN's headlines says race won't be a factor? Whose kidding who. Sometimes it feels like an African King is trying to ascend to the Oval Office instead of a presidential candidate – he definitely found the goose that laid the golden eggs – no public campaign financing.

    October 24, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  25. Scott

    I can't wait to vote! You are truly and inspiration.

    October 24, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16