January 7th, 2008
09:27 PM ET
15 years ago

Last-minute decision for one Granite State voter

BEDFORD, New Hampshire (CNN) - Put Erin Flanagan in the John McCain column.

We visited with Flanagan before Christmas, when she told us she was torn between McCain and Barack Obama; supportive of their calls to work on a bipartisan basis if elected president but torn over which one has the right Iraq policy.

It is personal for Erin; her brother was killed in Iraq two years ago.

Flanagan first encountered Senator McCain when she asked him a question about the war at a debate several months ago. He followed up and she invited him to her Bedford home for dinner.

After our report in December about her conflict, the Obama campaign contacted Flanagan and she met with him in Manchester.

Flanagan told CNN in an email exchange Monday that she had settled on McCain over the weekend, convinced he was the best choice to be commander-in-chief.

CNN talked with McCain on Monday as he campaigned in Keene, and when asked about Erin’s decision, he said: “I’m very grateful. She called me and said she had a long process and she was supporting my candidacy and wanted to do everything she can to help us win. I was very honored.”

He recalled her question at the debate, which included a reference to how her brother’s death had devastated the family. “It was one of the toughest questions I’ve ever had,” McCain said. “And I’m grateful for her support.”

–CNN Chief National Correspondent John King

Filed under: John McCain • New Hampshire
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Mary

    Let us pray and ask God for his will to be done among his people.thanks and God bless

    January 8, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  2. Heather, Murrieta Ca

    I'm glad she finally made a decision. It's important to participate in our political process and vote. Mc Cain is a good decent honorable man. He's not a conventional republican. He cares very much about our country and he has the endorsement of Joe Lieberman another honorable and decent man. That's bipartisanship. At least he would go and find Bin Laden.

    Congratulations John and Dana! The perfect couple. What a match! Please let us see a better look at the ring. You both are the gold standard in journalism.

    January 8, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  3. Erin Flanagan, Bedford, NH

    Here I go... I will defend my decisions on the CNN political ticker once again. I have given this vote so very much thought. I have reviewed Article 2 of the Constitution, read all that I could on all candidates, shaken hands, attended private events and national debates. How blessed I am to live in a country where I can engage in this process without fearing for my life. For this privilege, I am most grateful to the American soldier.

    At the end of the NH Primary process, I will vote for the person whom I believe can lead our country. One who respects and will work with all Americans, regardless of party affiliation. A leader I believe our troops will be honored to call Commander in Chief. We are at nation at war. Experience is necessary. We would never send an untrained soldier into battle. We must make some sense of this conflict before we can move forward with so many important domestic issues.

    Our president is our highest ranking military official. One who must truly appreciate the human cost of war. My brother's legacy weighs heavily upon my shoulders as I cast my vote. Today, I will vote for John McCain.

    January 8, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  4. Tammy

    I have to ditto JD's comments. Ron Paul is the only one of the candidates of EITHER party that has it right - bring the troops home because we're overspending, we're meddling, and we interfere. We wouldn't like it here, why are we DOING it there? We are a stones throw from an economic DEPRESSION where EVERYONE will lose!

    Ron Paul for President 2008 - Hope for America

    January 8, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  5. Mick in FL

    First of all, our government is Not broken. We have the best government system in the world. If we Don't like what some of the politicians are doing, while in their elected office, We The People can vote them out.

    We don't need Willard Mitt Romney to Fix our government. No president fixes our government. Change? Every newly elected president has a hand in the changes our country goes through while they are in office.

    Values? Come on. What a lame, empty political promise that one is. Values are subjective. Whose values does Romney intend to go to work on? What kind of values? The ones he fostered as governor of Massachusetts? While gov. of MA, his office funded gay/lesbian sex-ed–with No parental consent or notification–to Kindergarteners and Grade-School children. His office funded 'dances' for Adult gays/lesbians/transgenders/bi-sexuals...to 'meet up' with children of Twelve. Take a peek at http://www.massresistance.org
    This is a Conservative group in Massachusetts who provides a documented report of Romney's "values" on his march for our White House. No. I am not a homophobe. I simply believe no politician or organization has any right to assume a parent's responsibility/choice.

    Romney wreaked havoc on Massachusetts. Just because he can make millions for himself, this has not made him a qualified governmental leader.

    January 8, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  6. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    What does it matter this one voter? Will this voter go and vote? Only if she does will it make a difference for someone. I would like to know if all of the people who write here (who are eligible to vote) go out and vote like they are supposed to do. I love to hear all of these people who rally for a candidate and then stay home on election day.

    January 8, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  7. CW, Columbia, SC

    Nice story, but her vote won't save the republicans. Thank God that we will soon replace the current idiot and chief with soemone who is respectable and truly worthy of the office of president.

    January 8, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  8. Brian

    I think this woman has shown tremendous grace. Her brother was killed in Iraq and she merely asked the candidates what they would do to end the war. From that the national media and candidates seemed to chase her down because they apparently saw a story there. Can't understand why you could be critical of her. I have never pulled a lever for a Republican in my 42 years and will vote for Obama but McCain is an honorable man and he apparently reached out to this woman.

    January 8, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  9. Brian

    I think this woman has shown tremendous grace. Her brother was killed in Iraq and she merely asked the candidates at a debate what they would do to end the war. From that the national media and candidates seemed to chase her down because they apparently saw a story there. Can't understand why you could be critical of her. I have never pulled a lever for a Republican in my 42 years and will vote for Obama but McCain is an honorable man and he apparently reached out to Erin and impressed her. I truly hope he is not the next president (right on immigration, wrong on the war) but my heart breaks for her and her family and the thousands of families who have experienced such pain, and respect her right to choose her candidate.

    January 8, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  10. Dave

    I am impressed with your careful consideration. I agree, Obama is just not ready yet. In 8-12 years, maybe he will be- with some international experience, some experience managing and leading people, and a few more years of federal governement experience.

    Today, Obama is just a good speaker and a pretty face- sure he can get the MTV crowd excited- but can he lead the free world? Can he lead our military? He is not ready for this yet. Give him another 8 years of relevant experience, and he may be unstoppable. If he does not mess up- he will be president one day- just not in 2008. I don't think he is ready, and most of the country knows it.

    January 8, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  11. Paul, Kissimmee Fl

    Erin, first of all, I'm sorry for your loss. My older brother did 2 tours over there and I thank God he made it back. It's nice to see an American that can look past the hype and catch phrases. Sometimes I feel like the majority of this country votes for the president of the United States like they would a high school president, just a popularity contest. I like McCain myself. If people want to vote for Obama, they need to understand that being president is more than throwing pep rallies. If people are voting for Obama because they've listened to his views, and not just catchy phrases, then that would be a responsible, calculated vote. I hope more people take the time to evaluate their vote as you did. This is how we will get the president that this country deserves. All of this talk about change sounds nice, but I have yet to here how Obama plans to do any of this.

    January 8, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  12. Jim in Orlando, FL

    I think this woman has a very clear idea of what she wants in her President if her final two were McCain and Obama. I may not vote for either, but both are good honest men, more centrist than not, and with track records of going against the "spur of the moment" wisdom (primarily, McCain urging "more troops" long before the surge, and Obama speaking against the war while the rest of the country was caught up in a "go to war" fervor).

    To all the "experience" folks trumpeting Hillary over Obama, ITS ABOUT INTEGRITY. I don't care how much experience one has, if the integrity is not there, or someone is just a political hack, it doesn't matter if their are the oldest in the land. Hillary has a long track record of being deceitful. McCain and Obama, and many others in this hunt, are honest AND able to handle the job.

    January 8, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  13. lee

    Voting for McCain is a third term of Bush!

    January 8, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  14. Penny

    I am a NH voter. I think experience does count and the middle class working people of this country finally deserve a president who will address their needs. I appreciate John Edward's positions and his hard work and the professional experience and negotiating skills of Bill Richardson. These are two men, who without having a blank checkbook, campaigned hard and would work for the betterment of our country without owing a lot of favors to anyone. They are fine examples of the American middle class worker themselves, people who have come up the hard way and are trying to make a difference for the many. I wish I could have two votes!

    January 8, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  15. roger

    Obama is all hat and no cattle. Edwards doesn't even have a hat. None of the Republicans are presidential. Clinton is the only candidate in either party with the intelligence and readiness and knowledge of global politics needed to save us from extinction. But I doubt if she can be elected, because there are too many men out there with fragile testicles and too many compromised women.

    January 8, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  16. Dave Bailey

    As an independent New Hampshire resident, I cast my vote for John McCain. I'm a Viet Nam veteran, but NOT a member of the VFW or AmVets or any of the other establishment veteran groups. Still, I appreciate the integrity required to get anyone through the ordeal that shaped McCain's character. I can't believe that a survivor of the brutality that was Viet Nam could continue a war without having thought out the consequences of abandoning the course. The "knee-jerk" response to a difficult situation usually represents the wrong response. To continue the struggle in Iraq, although impalatable, is still the only option for an America trying to re-establish the principles upon which the country was founded. We started this war and we have an obligation to see it to a stable and just conclusion. Repairing America's reputation can only begin after we settle the obligations made by our present administration. At McCain's age, I can't imagine that he will benefit much for taking on the ills visited on us all by such an inept leadership. So I have to believe that his motives are altruistic. All I'm sure of is that if I have to follow somebody, I would hope that the leader would be wise enough to avoid hasty action and empty rhetoric. In my opinion, McCain fits the bill.

    January 8, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  17. Tom, los angeles, ca

    To those who find the war objectionable: Yes, it is a god-awful mess. Yet, what is the real benefit of running over ourselves to exit this fight? The next President ought to look beyond the 'now' and see what the endgame looks like.

    The battle in Iraq can be won, in time. Yes, it takes a commitment. It takes knowledge that we're on the right side of this fight, that the fight about Islamic fascism is a military and economic battle. Which is why McCain is the only candidate to step and say we need to win both of those fronts, with a surge of troops and an economic blueprint for the region.

    It harkins back to post WWII, no? The Germans also put up a fight with their own insurgents, too. But we didn't back down. Ask the French about the ill effects of pulling out of Algeria.

    Who knows what is going to happen next when the new President sits down. Which candidate is prepared to deal with the unknown? Who has shown they have the integrity, wits, and character to deal with a crisis? Some people are clearly better than others, but how can we choose someone who has shown the public none of those qualities? Obama is a fine speaker, probably the best on both sides of the aisle, but lacks meaningful substance.

    McCain....is the candidate that i've been slow to support. But the more i contemplate the more comfortable I am. He wants to see a solution to our immigration mess, and he does not get invovled with the rhetorical battle. We need immigrants and we need a better legal channel. Can't kick all the illegals out, but we shouldn't give them citizenship, fair enough.

    His stance on the war 'seems' like Bush, but he has been critical many times and so he should have been. We needed more troops from the get-go. You fight a war to win, not half-ass it. The quickest way out is to go in harder and smarter, not weaken our influence there. Again, it takes a backbone to do the right thing, as tough as it may be.

    Is McCain the ideal candidate? Probably not. But he's proven he's not beholden to the extreme edge of his party, has worked across the aisle, is pragmatic, and i think he has the ability and experience to deal with an unforeseen crisis.

    I like Obama's message of change.....but not for mroe government. Give me less government, give me more freedom. I'm all for the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
    After a thorough reading of the Declaration of Independence, you'll see how far we've moved away from the ideals this country was founded on.

    January 8, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  18. Dan, TX

    As an independent I think McCain is the best republican candidate and Obama the best democratic one. I would choose Obama. Those that say Obama is all talk and no real plans just haven't bothered to find out. His web site details extensive plans on all issues.

    Obama is a man of great substance. But Obama, Clinton and Edwards have pretty much the same policies. He's held many forums on national security, health care, economic policy etc. But the news media only want to report on "change".

    go to the web site if you care about policy.

    January 8, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  19. david

    CNN is so blantantly pro Obama. I tried to catch an update during lunch today and all I heard was the re-run of how "Women Want Obama" from yesterday. Give me a break. Now I see a 'committed delegate' count on this webpage yet nothing is mentioned on the "news". Sad...

    January 8, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  20. Debra Austin, Texas

    Having previously supported Bill Clinton, I'm only embarassed at what he has become. Clearly, he has turned into all that he use to vigorously fight against. He is sarcastic, nasty, and untruthful with he attacks Obama. And he doesn't even have the argument that he was attacked first in this fight. He and his legacy is taking a big hit during this process and it's a shame. But I'm afraid that his role in the party and as a statesman is being forever reduced by some emotional outbursts that he has had recently. Can you understand the frustration? There is no doubt. But the 'change' that Obama keeps referring to is the change from the slime politics which unfortunately Bill has become a willing participant. The numbers who are attracted to this bitter, outdated approach appears to be very low.

    Grow up Bill. It's not all about you and what you've done for the party or the country. And neither you nor Hillary are entitled to anything regardless of the work you have put into past fights. You must win this campaign and it doesn't appear that your message has much resonance with the country as it is today. And I don't think that outcome changes when you lie, manipulate or otherwise slime your opponents. Give it up and save whatever credibility you have left. Shame Bill!

    January 8, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  21. rasp

    The issue of our foreign policy is only partly about Iraq...what bothers me even more is that the U.S. has a military presence in 135 countries of the 192 that we recognize.

    It is no wonder that everyone else on the planet finds us annoying.

    The only candidate that I trust to actually reign in our military is Ron Paul.

    January 8, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  22. Jeremy

    I hear everyone say that McCain and Clinton have experience and intelligence, and Obama is not experienced enough. If you mean by experienced, an individual that has not been in Washington long enough to be corrupted by all the S.I.G.'s and lobbyist, then you're right. You don't become the head of the Havard Law Review by been naive and unitelligent. McCain time has passed and Hilary is so full of the same old Washington jargon. We need a President that is focused on America FIRST!! While everyone is bickering about records and he said/she said fingerpoint, our country is being sold out right before our eyes.. Barack Obama and John Edwards are interested in whats important to the middle class families of America. Obama-Edwards in '08!!!

    January 8, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  23. Bill from NYC

    Erin is one thoughtful, caring and involved citizen. Even with the terrible loss of her brother, she is brave and sensible enough to want the US to stay engaged against the forces of tryanny and hatred. My hat is off to her.

    January 8, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  24. Tina from Ossining

    Erin is an inspiration to me. Clearly, she has put a lot of effort and thought into her decision. It would be easy to remain silent in her sorrow. However, she has become active in the democratic process that is so important today. I salute you, Erin, for your honesty and for your willingness to share your personal experience.

    January 8, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  25. Shannon Cleary -Erin Flanagan's Sister

    How proud I am of my sister, Erin. She has never been one to welcome controversy...she is a peace-keeper by nature. When I think about some of the responses regarding Erin's previously undecided, now public, support of John McCain, I wish that I could explain to each that Erin's speaking out is a public service. She have proudly, and gracefully, articulated her thought process. This has helped countless American voters to have the confidence to self-educate, ask questions and ponder responses. Erin has led from the front, much like our Mike did..the example she is setting for our fellow Americans is one that is priceless: it our privilege and our duty to listen to those who stand before us, asking for our votes. Erin has set an example for all of those who no longer believe that bipartisanship is working for our country, that 'the ability to reach across the aisle' is a quality many of use are looking for in our head public servant.

    January 8, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
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