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.”