October 24th, 2008
06:00 PM ET
6 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. Brandon

    Good Man...some dont realize the real steps that have been made at this moment in time..Its a painful, yet uplifting feeling! I guess we have History to thank for that...

    October 24, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  2. Meka

    Thank you Aaron, and I can definitely relate to–how you feel!

    Thank you John S from Canada...majority of American's do have a sense of "What's Right". We have come a long way, but still have a way to go for "True Democracy"

    Obama/Biden '08-'12

    October 24, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  3. DEBBIE

    I love BEING AN AMERICAN

    THANK YOU

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08

    October 24, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  4. Dixie

    Good on you, Aaron

    October 24, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  5. Pepou

    What a moving story. Yes, this country is going to finally move into the XXIth century by electing Obama. I am so proud of my country !

    October 24, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  6. carol kesling

    GOD BLESS YOU AARON WHEELER !!!!! PLEASE EVERYONE VOTE !!! ALSO PLEASE PRAY FOR OBAMAS GRANDMOTHER, MAY SHE PLEASE HANG ON IF OBAMA WINS, TOO SEE WHAT A GENTLEMAN SHE HELPED RAISE !!!!!!!! PLEASE ALL VOTE,VOTE, VOTE, LETS NOT TAKE THESE POLLS FOR GRANTED !!!!! LETS BRING CHANGE TO THE U.S.A. !!!!!!! GO OBAMA AND BIDEN....

    October 24, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  7. we need something new- from OH

    i nearly cried when i voted for obama as well. WE NEED CHANGE- no more politics of fear and division. this country needs unity and a solid plan for making renewable energy and creating tons of jobs! Obama is the only one with the courage to invest 15 billion dollars a year in hopes of creating a better energy future for us all. we have been battered down by the bush years. Obama/Biden for the change we need!!

    October 24, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  8. L

    truly unbelievable... not moved in the least

    October 24, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  9. St. Paul Mom

    Aaron, I admire the way you acted for what you believe in, even though it wasn't convenient.

    Every vote counts.

    October 24, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  10. ruby

    This is very inspiring. I think we are seeing history been made before our eyes,this is a dream come through for me. That people in USA can now jugde each other not by the color of their skin but the content of ones character. Go Aaron!

    October 24, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  11. vahe

    good job!!!

    October 24, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  12. Beverlee (WI)

    NOW there is a MAN! Dignity all the way!

    October 24, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  13. 58 white old ladies for OBAMA

    19 REPUBLICANS & 39 DEMOCRATS,

    ALL HONORED TO HAVE VOTED FOR OBAMA.

    FOLKS * * VOTE NOW * *

    October 24, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  14. gord

    after there will be many heartwarmming storys way to go arron

    October 24, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  15. Ian K

    Is it just me, or are the Rupublican leaning posters on here seeming more and more aggressive? Caps lock = yelling, and if I were wanting to have a conversationa nd talka bout the merits of this article, I'd rather not have someone screaming at me. I'm willing to listen to all sides, and I think there are many individual views shared here, which is amazing.

    This article shows a human side to this election, about someones personal decision, and their emotions surrounding it. Then we have many posters just repeating McCain-Palin rhetoric.

    I'm glad to hear about how people come to the decisions they have in this race, and this article is a good example of the human side of this.

    October 24, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  16. rys, maryland

    I'd drive twice that far if i had to...just to vote OBAMA/BIDEN!!! fortunately i just have to walk across the street!!!
    Congrats Mr. Wheeler!!!
    Get out there and VOTE, VOTE, VOTE...no matter what!!!

    October 24, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  17. Obamacan

    I am another former Republican voting for Obama.

    Our country needs a change. The current group of neocons, Bush and McCain included, have absolutely destroyed my party. We used to be the party of ideas and intelligence. Now it is nothing but destruction, rampant spending and hateful lies.

    I may not agree with Obama's fiscal policies, but I applaud his character, moral convictions, intelligence and his refusal to bring his campaign down to the gutter where McCain has set up camp.

    October 24, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  18. gord

    way to go aaron

    October 24, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  19. carol kesling

    to jimmy, tried and true veteran john mccain lost all of his respect when he starting this mud slinging campaign..... hes been using that war story for a long time... there are plenty of hereos he helped send to war in iraq FOR NO REASON !!!!!! THE ONLY DIFFERENCE is they came home in a coffin !!!!! think about it !!!!! W.M.DS. RIGHT !!!!!!! GO OBAMA AND BIDEN I VOTED OCT13TH, AND THIS IS TRULLY HISTORY !!!!!!

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

    Everyone needs to make sure that the voting machine takes your vote like you cast it..... if it doesn't...... make a ruckus!

    October 24, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  21. Doug

    This brought a tear to my eye. We may be a little mixed up as a country right now, but we've come a long way.

    We can go even further with the right leader.

    Obama '08

    October 24, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  22. Ohio for Obama

    I VOTED YESTERDAY...It's a GREAT day for Democracy (8 years in the making)!

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 24, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  23. Maddie, Hartford, Ct.

    What a story! This was obviously not a racially motivated vote. This man had good, sound reasons for voting for his candidate of choice. Hopefully, all of us will use the same good judgement on election day! And may the best man win!

    October 24, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  24. AH

    Americans should be grateful that their country gives them an opportunity to vote. There are places in this world where that right is denied to so many. Please Americans exercise the right to vote that you have that so many in this world are denied. Go out to vote for the millions around the world whose voices have been silenced by dictators and monarchies. There is no excuse for not voting!!

    October 24, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  25. db

    THANK YOU Mr. Wheeler.
    The people of America are speaking...

    OBAMA/BIDEN '08-12

    October 24, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
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