ABOARD THE ELECTION EXPRESS (CNN)
“Hectic,” said Ben Bueford, 65.
That’s the word he thinks best sums up what this election year has been like: “It’s been a very hectic year, which I think is wonderful." He’s retired, and works part-time at a YMCA; he is one of the people with whom we spoke about the tone of the long campaign, on our way through Iowa as we move toward Election Day.
“You can tell that there has been a level of interest in this campaign that is different than in years before, and I think it’s that way all over the country, not just here in Iowa," he said. Because Iowa and its caucuses play such an important role in the early stages of the process of electing a new president, he said, it is tempting for Iowans to believe that the interest there is more intense than in other places.
“But I don’t think that's really so," he said. “It may have started here, but the way the country has become involved in this election year, especially so many young people– I’ve seen a lot of presidential elections, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this."
Because he is a supporter of Barack Obama, he knews he may be accused of not being objective about something he has noticed, but he wanted to offer his feelings about it anyway:
“I don’t like the tone of what John McCain’s campaign has been saying about Sen. Obama,” he said. “In my opinion, it’s starting to sound more like slander than a list of the facts. It seems to me that the McCain campaign is trying to make Obama seem to be not quite American. You can disagree with your opponent, but when you try to portray him as not being a good person, you put fear into people.”
He knows that McCain supporters probably feel strongly the other way, and the visceral strength of the feelings on both sides, he said, is what has separated this year’s campaign from some others he has watched in the past. “Whatever you may like or dislike about the campaign," he said, “you can’t criticize the level of energy. I don’t think it could possibly get any more energetic.”