December 21st, 2007
09:20 AM ET
14 years ago

For one N.H. voter, it's between McCain and Obama

McCain personally paid Flanagan a visit earlier this year.

(CNN) - Erin Flanagan is still undecided.

Hardly news, right?

But there's more. Last week, we told you about this independent New Hampshire voter and her anguish over her vote - and the second anniversary of her brother's death in Iraq.

John McCain came to her house a while back for dinner, and made a strong impression.

But she was still undecided - and considering, as we reported last week, Barack Obama as well.

Her dilemma: she liked Obama and McCain for their promises to work across the aisle, but couldn’t decide which is right when it comes to the course of future Iraq policy.

Well, the Obama camp saw our report and requested a meeting - and it happened Wednesday night, at a campaign event in Manchester. (Watch: Soldier's sister torn)

"He was very kind... greeted me with a gentle handshake and a sympathetic hug," Erin told us in an email exchange. She says Obama asked about her brother, and " discussed his respect and admiration of the troops."

Erin described the Illinois senator as friendly and "very sincere."

But: "I'm still undecided."

Earlier: Brother's death in Iraq to color sister's vote

- CNN Chief National Correspondent John King

soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Dex, North Carolina

    Why is this woman so special? She is one of many undecided voters so why are we giving her 15 minutes of fame? There may be a legit reason, but I missed it. I understand about her brother serving, but many of us have family that died in this God-awful war.

    December 21, 2007 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  2. Scott, Wausau, WI

    Our country is in serious trouble. There is not one candidate whom I personally feel is worthy of running our country. I like Obama, but it is just too bad that most people feel that now is not the time to have an A/A president with a Muslim name. Also, Hillary will cause entirely too much discord amongst the general public to have any sort of successful presidency. Amongst the Republicans, we have Giuliani (who has never held a significant political office), Huckabee (who wasn't even elected by the state of Arkansas for his 1st term), Romney (a Mormon will face too much opposition from the Evangelical Christian base of the party) and McCain, whom I personally feel to be the best of the Republican candidates, but won't get past the primaries.

    It's going to be either Clinton/Obama vs. Huckabee/Giuliani/Romney.

    None of those 5 candidates are even worth my vote.


    Exercise your right to say WHO CARES. NOBODY CAN FIX OUR COUNTRY.

    December 21, 2007 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  3. Steve, Lyons, CO

    Easy choice.

    McCain has gone from a super-brave prisoner of war to a political coward, kissing the butt of a president who trashed McCain, his accomplishments and his good name in 2000.

    McCain has turned far right Christian extremist. His recent vote against children's health care in support of President Criminal is sickening.

    McCain went from correctly labeling James "Hatemonger" Dobson a religious terrorist, to backing off and SPEAKING TO THE UNIVERSITY as if the students were anything but brain-dead religiously-brainwashed losers.

    December 21, 2007 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  4. PS, KC, MO

    I'm still undecided too. But I'm not THAT undecided. I will vote for a Democrat. And, in the primary, it probably won't be Hillary or Obama.

    December 21, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  5. Steve, San Diego, CA

    Only in Iowa or New Hampshire could you meet your 2 candidates face to face and STILL be undecided. Here in California, the only way you can meet a candidate is if you are offering up a huge chunk of money to them.

    By the way...Hillary's touting of her foreign experience is laughable when she will not even talk about what role she played in the Clinton administration. If you want me to believe that you weren't just a First Lady and that you actually had a role with the president, you can't answer with an Alberto Gonzalez style response!

    December 21, 2007 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  6. bulldog

    Does she have any more brothers? McCain is going to need them when he starts WWIII.

    December 21, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. xtina chicago IL

    You can't predict if any of these guys will make good on their promises, so why not judge them on their records? Instead of stressing about what they promise to do, why not look at what the various candidates have ALREADY DONE that shows leadership ?. . .

    December 21, 2007 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  8. Tim, Minnesota

    She has to decide betwee war and war. Hmmmmm I bet she doesn't vote

    December 21, 2007 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  9. Lee Lee, Los Angeles, Ca

    Is she really undecided? Considering that Obama and McCain are so very different how can you be torn btwn the two? I'm aware of her backstory, but I still think this is a stunt on her part.

    December 21, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  10. J, Seattle, WA

    McCain is a clearly focused thinker. He takes action. He has experience. He doesn't need on the job training in the White House. He has and will continue to gain consensus in Congress. He has innovative ideas on how to deal with the health care system. You misinformed pundits out there may want to ask the guy what his plans are before making judgments you will later regret. John McCain is not for blanket amnesty. Who made that up? He is for compassion. I think we can all spare some compassion for each other. He is absolutely for closing the borders, right now. He is no puppet of Bush. They happen to be members of the same party, but so is Huckabee and Ron Paul. BIG DEAL. So, sorry Hillary, what are YOU going to do? Tell us we need to keep the illegals here because we are all one village? Sounds like one world government to me. And who wants Bill near the White House again anyway?

    December 21, 2007 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  11. ne,pa.


    If you want a fear and war monger McCain's your man! He's another Bush!

    Obama represents change and look at Ron Paul closely...he'll set this country straight.

    P.S. Don't fall for the "my friend" crap McCain's always saying...and he's got a well documented temper under that soft voice. The guy is yesterday!

    December 21, 2007 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  12. fu, manchester, NH

    If elected, McCain will continue the Iraq war forever, and need any male relative you have as soldiers.

    For Obama, as you did not give him dinner, he will eat dinner with the leader of the terrorsts that killed your brother.

    December 21, 2007 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |

    "...but I still think this is a stunt on her part."
    Posted By Lee Lee, Los Angeles, Ca : December 21, 2007 5:26 pm

    Um, I don't think this is anything she is in control of, it is the media circus that has her in it's sights. That is the reason she is this week's focus point. Just like a game of Chess, there are ever changing points of focus, points of attack.

    Ms. Flanagan is being used by these power hungry fools, not the candidates, but the handlers.

    If I knew how to find her, I might come visit her, she's a hottie. That's why Obama went soon after McCain, it's like a breath of fresh air, considering all the old people they have to meet.

    December 22, 2007 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  14. Kay, Las Vegas, NV

    "Does she have more brothers? McCain's gonna need them when he starts WWIII"

    Buddy, you're a sorry piece of you-know-what for that comment!

    December 22, 2007 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  15. Heather, Nashville, TN

    Does this mean we are going to poll all of the families who have lost loved ones in Iraq and see who they are voting for? No offense but this lady's choice could be the exception and not the rule so why are we focusing only on her vote when there are many other grieving families out there. Interesting, very very interesting.....

    December 22, 2007 04:53 am at 4:53 am |
  16. Paul, Norfolk, VA

    Jayson, Beale AFB, CA:

    Jayson, when I read your blog, I thought I wrote it myself. I couldn't agree with your more. Clinton descimated the military, had no respect for the military, and the military, in turn, had none for him. Many military friends delayed retirement during the Clinton years just to avoid having that dirtbag sign their retirement certificates. Telling how little respect they had for Clinton. Seeing that dirtbag salute a marine upon deboarding Marine One nauseated me.

    The notion of candidates promising entitlements for a vote sickens me. They are in essence buying votes. For that reason, I have long thought it easy to be a Democrat running for office. Much harder for a Republican that exspouses personal responsibility

    December 22, 2007 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  17. Eric, Salt Lake City, Utah

    J from Seattle – well put. Also – nice energy from the Paul supporters, but he's proven himself incapable of consensus thinking and moderation in our liberal democracy. Paul adds value to the national discourse, but would increase deadlock in trying to dismantle the gov't. The Constitution is more beautifully nuanced than Paul seems to realize.

    Refreshing story here which shows the importance of character more than caricatures policy positions. My dream contest for independent/moderate swing voters: McCain/Graham vs. Biden/Obama. We've long ignored problems, leaving the next generation a mess. All of these men are willing and able to move past DC deadlock and delay to real workable solutions. Obama has good heart and judgment, but would benefit from the experience as Biden's VP. The all know how to flex but have backbone not derived from/subject to change with polls.

    December 22, 2007 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  18. daniel makin

    just vote ron paul and maybe just maybe we can save someone elses son little brother..... help savew america your brother would have voted for freedom RON PAUL 08

    December 22, 2007 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  19. AJ; Montpelier

    Cant she come up with better choices than these two clowns? This just illustrates the limited intelligence of the American electorate!

    December 22, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |


    December 22, 2007 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  21. Erin Flanagan, Bedford, NH

    My name is Erin Flanagan... the undecided independent voter from NH...who unfortunately stumbled upon this site. I am disappointed that what I believed to be a personal e-mail was posted on the CNN political ticker. Yes, I am still undecided. Not a crime, as I do not need to choose a candidate until January 8. At which time, I will proudly vote. Until then, I will attend events and read all that I can to make the most informed choice I believe that I can.

    I am not a naive voter. I know that candidates' proposed plans on issues rarely have the longevity to come to fruition. I will not vote purely on issue positions. I do not agree with my husband on all issues... and we are very happily married. I am looking for a person who can lead our executive branch of government, perform the constitutional responsibilities of the presidency and hopefully inspire congress to stop playing partisan games.

    I have never sought media attention. I believed the CNN piece intended to express the struggle of a undecided NH voter who happens to be a member of a gold star family. I am a stay at home mother of 3... many see themselves in my family. What is so special about me? Let me tell you. Michael Cleary is my brother. We have the same eyes. I rocked him to sleep when he was a baby. Mike was a 24 year old 1st. LT, platoon leader who fought like hell in the desert of Iraq to make sure his men made it home safely. He died to ensure that you could express your opinions so freely.

    This holiday season... instead of being so quick to judge... say a prayer for those who serve and the 3,987 families who have a empty chair at their tables.

    December 23, 2007 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  22. Beth & Jeff Chicago, IL - We Wish for Lasting Peace on Earth

    Dear Erin and family,


    You never deserved to be held up for attack by those who are so quick to judge others – only according to their own personal political agendas 🙁

    Our hearts go out to you and your family and hold the deepest respect for your brother. Regardless of which party or candidate you finally decide upon, as fellow Americans, we can all at least agree that because of brave soldiers like your brother, America has the freedom to keep voting according to their own conscience.

    We will always hold in our hearts your brother – 1st LT Michael Cleary, along with the thousands of other families who have lost loved ones, as well as those whose loved ones have come home injured and permanently disabled and who have all served our country so nobly.

    A Very Sincere Thank you.

    December 24, 2007 02:37 am at 2:37 am |

    God Bless You Erin and family. God Bless Your Brother, 1st LT Michael Cleary.

    God Bless All those who have served Our Nation throughout our history. God Bless those who have given their lives and their grieving families. God Bless those who have come home disabled and their families too. God Bless All Our Men and Women in Uniform – Past and Present.

    God Bless America.

    December 26, 2007 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  24. Richard, Ewing, NJ


    I wish you and your family all the best. I will be forever in debt to your brother and the heroes who has scarficed so much protecting America, and I will never let myself forget as long as I live. Please take your time in deciding who to, simply because voting is serious business and because voting is a private decision. Please do not let some of these hateful comments upset you. I am very proud of you, your family and especially your brother, who has given so much for people like me. I like to express my gratitude to you here.

    At the same time, I am so very ashamed of all the nasty comments made here - because they do not have the slightly idea that voting is a private decision.

    Best wishes,
    Richard W

    December 27, 2007 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  25. Steven Guy

    I just watched Erin Flanagan and I sympathize with her indecision. The two of my favorites are on different sides of the fence. One is McCain and one is Richardson. I fixed aircraft in the Middle East and probably had a hand in transporting her brother. She was a teacher and it obviously children and their well being was high on the list. And I also wondered if even she knew how badly our educational system has failed democracy.
    The question where the war is concerned that no one ever asks is can any one name a guerilla war that a standing army has ever won? The only wars I can think of became wars of annihilation. Talk of strategy and diplomacy is nice, but the truth of the matter is, in the Middle East in particular, is wars only end when all sides stop fighting. We did not lose in Viet Nam, we stopped fighting. If you look at losses obviously Viet Nam took much larger losses. This is the question, when do you want to leave? You will never leave a peaceful Middle East. Viet Nam and Cambodia was at war long after we left. How many more American lives and how much more money do we keep spending.
    Our dollar is slipping, our economy is slipping. People are losing their homes, New Orleans is not rebuilt, our bridges are not rebuilt. Our country is being invaded by illegal immigrants, many who are native Americans with treaties that were upheld by our own Supreme Court, who historically have a claim on the territory. This invasion usually is not, but sometimes is a armed invasion. This invasion is ALWAYS under the sponsorship of Mexico. It is the product of failed foreign and domestic policy of our government for the last two centuries. Even our own law and Supreme court decisions ae ambiguous. The treaty that set the border was illegal and negotiated by a man fired from our state department. The Mexicans representatives were considered criminals and traitors. They also signed in violation of their own countries laws. This and illegal Native American treaties is the reason this border is not secure. That insecure border has caused us three military actions, direct involvement in one world war and indirect invovement in a second world war. California entered our nation as a "free" state, but if you were native American in California you were a slave. Slavery was legal in the North prior to the Civil War, you just could not own a slave, you had to lease them.
    Our Social Security is broke and now corporate America has dumped billions of pensions on the taxpayer. Health Care goes up because those with insurance end up paying for the costs of the uninsured so like it or not we have a universal health cost and rapid universal undercoverage. I have buried three veterans in two years. One was homeless and the other was on state aid. This is not what our troops are fighting for. All had fought for their country, were educated, skilled and worked until the last day the wer healthy. Both the Clinton and Bush families have betrayed these men and America.
    The Pro Choice argument and Pro Life argument makes me sick. The legal full term of a preganacy is 225 months. The Pro Choice quit on our new life at conception and the Pro Lifers quit on it after nine months. This country was not formed as a Christian nation. It was secular. We had no Christmas holiday for the first 67 years of our history, because our government was formed from people that had come from different religious backgrounds. My grandfathers that fought in the revoloution were Hugeaunauts from France, Marano Jew from Spain and Native Americans that gave us our Constitution and Bill of Rights from the Iroquois Law of Man. They spoke French, Iroquois, German, Spanish and English. Spanish was spoken in this country 300 years prior to English. The Cherokee women had voting rights and property rights at the time of the revoloution. The Cherokee people populated the two largest populated towns West of the colonies. They had a 85% literacy rate when the Anglos had a 15% literacy rate. One third of the tribe was exiled into Mexico after defeating the British twice, the second time at New Orleans with Andrew Jackson who was the man that sent them in Concentration Camps and on death marches. Zyclon B was used on our borders to delouse these "immigrants" crossing our border prior to the Nazis. The Yaqui Indians tribal boundaries were in both Mexico and the United States. They put up with genocide on both sides of the border form members of the United States, Mexico, France and German governments until the 1920's.
    Our children and adults do not know the history of our country , the history of our borders or the history of the world. Many of our cities have infant mortality rates that are worse than third world countries. Most American flags are either made in foreign countries or by illegal immigrants. It is time for another American Revoloution. I don't care how you vote, but I do thank all of those that do vote . I thank all of you who support your troops, not by waving a flag made in China, but by giving them a job when they get home. By going to the homeless shelters and giving them blankets and soup. I thank all people that are true pro life and true pro choice that teach our children that abortion is a horrible choice that harms mother and child. And a return to the coat hanger kills mother and child. Changing laws do not eliminate social problems. Raising Americas children, providing health care and educating them for eighteen years is the only true pro life or pro choice stance. If gun control works so well Northern Ireland should have been a very secure place for the last forty years. Stop looking at one issue, look at our country, and look at our world.
    Turn off your TV and go to the library and check for yourself what the voting records are. Campaigns are all lies. The media only tells you about the top three. Learn your history, of your country and your religions. I happen to be as American as it gets. I have Native Americans, Slaves, slaveholders, white, oriental, hispanics, Jews, Protestants and Catholics in my family. Members of my family have fought in every war including the ones that are not in the history books. That includes military actions against France, Phillipine uprisings, invasions by our country into Canada and Russia.
    Most of the rights won in this country were won with the forces of law and order against the people. Civil Rights and virtually all labor standards were fought for in the streets of this country.
    We show concern for the insecurity of the political process of Pakistan. Of our own Presidents many have been under fire.
    Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, John Garfield, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt as he ran for his second term as a Bull Moose. The bullet that killed Mayor Cermak was meant for Franklin Roosevelt, Truman faced a paramilitary terrorist attack. Two Kennedys, Nixon attacked abroad also had Samuel Byck attempt to hijack a aircraft to crash into the White House. Artie Bremer stalked Nixon prior to attacking George Wallace. We just released one of the attackers of President Ford and the other came from the Manson family. John Hinkley stalked Carter and then shot Reagan. Francisco Duran fired on the Clinton White House and Artiniun threw a grenade at George W. Bush and a Russian official.
    Dozens of Congressmen and judges have died under fire, sometimes from each other in duels. Our democracy is fragile, our democracy depends on the populace knowing not only where we want to go, but where we have been. No country has set such high standards for itself in the very foundation. No country has spilt more blood trying to get it right. We owe it to our soldiers and freedom fighters in our own streets, fields and workplaces to get this right. We owe it to the religious leaders that put aside differences to bring about peace. We owe it to the Natives that sacrificed their birthright. We owe it to the slaves, Irish and Chinese that built our infrastructure. We owe it to the Europeans that came from socialist countries and formed unions, not to be socialists, but to make capitalism work. They knew that in socialist countries the first thing that died was unions. Unions are capitalistic, because the driving engine of capitalism is self improvement. And our self improvement and the improvement of the lives of our children are what make this worth fighting for. The fight is on our shores. Osama Bin Laden does not have to attack again. If we don't start paying attention our worst enemy is our own ignorance. Steven G

    January 5, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
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