January 23rd, 2008
08:30 AM ET
14 years ago

Real People, Real Issues: The digital divide

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/23/art.elex1.cnn.jpg caption="CNN's Ali Velshi and Mark Preston are headed across the country on board the CNN Election Express."]ABOARD THE ELECTION EXPRESS, Atlanta (CNN) - Once he gets access to the Internet, Lavvy Deondre is confident he will be able to turn his life around.

Deondre is relatively new to Atlanta, and he doesn’t own a computer. Every night he finds a new place to rest his head. Deondre is homeless, but he is also optimistic. He just needs the Internet.

“I want access to the Internet, search the Internet and then try to make some plans to come up with an idea,” Deondre said late Tuesday night as a cold rain soaked his clothes, but clearly not his spirit.

Ali Velshi and I ran into him after talking with several international businessmen following our 400 mile drive from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – the first leg of our cross-country journey to hear what is on voters’ minds.

The two conversations couldn’t have been anymore different. While the group of businessmen talked about how the impact of the U.S. markets affected the global economy, Deondre said the need to build affordable, safe housing was his top priority.

“I would like for the president to break down all of these ghetto situations in every city,” he said. “Every city in the United States has a good side and a bad side. Here in Atlanta it is very bad when you go to other places. All you have to do is just break some apartment building down and rebuild. I am not saying move all blacks out, but bad things are seriously happening there.”

Deondre said he came to Atlanta from Manhattan after his brother died a few months ago. The 37-year-old painter claims the cost of burying his brother cleaned him out, but he thinks there are “more jobs here.”

He is in the process of getting a Georgia identification card, and plans on voting in November.

Deondre, an African-American, immediately spoke about the competitive race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination. Hands down, he said, Clinton is going to win.

“I believe she is going to pull a victory out of this situation,” he said. “I think she has got more votes than him.”

And Deondre said if he had to vote in the race between these two leading Democratic contenders, Clinton would have his vote, in part, because of her husband.

“It is not about white or black or anything like that,” he said. “It is about principles and respect no matter where you go in life. Even though she is going to be president, her husband is still going to try and run things for her. I like Bill Clinton. He is going to step up and help her out.”

When asked if he planned on supporting the Democratic or Republican nominee in November, he smiled and suggested he would be leaning towards the GOP.

“It is going to be more money and more jobs if a Republican is going to get in office,” he said. “I would love for a Republican to get in there.”

When we parted ways, Deondre headed back to the Salvation Army shelter, while we went to our hotel.

- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. RachaelChe

    Voters have to really take heart of the negative things that come out to try and defame those trying to make a case against their opponents.
    Also, as a voter we should just take in what the canadidates platform is and how their worked in the political arena and not those who either support them (even if they have a justified stance with the canadidates) in the end the canadidate is the one who will be in power. Cheap negative gossip only hurts those who start those tongue wagging lies, and also the news media who help lies in their headlines.

    Stop Think and Review all and only the views of the Canadidate when casting ones vote. By doing so we can make our world a much better one equally for all citizens and their individuality.

    January 23, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  2. Drew

    It's amazing how different the world is when we can step back and look at through anothers perception. Nice story and best of luck Deondre!

    January 23, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  3. Kim

    I hope you guys paid him for this interview. Access to the internet for the homeless is a good idea, though. They could get in touch with friends and family, research available jobs and find organizations that may be able to help them make a fresh start.

    January 23, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  4. Chaunda,IN


    I do not hear people picking Hillary because of her husband, I hear people NOT picking Hillary because her husband and in spite of the fact that he ran a successful administration.

    January 23, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  5. GaryO Virginia Beach

    Deondre is voting Republican because he thinks that a Republican administration will provide more jobs, and he can then find gainful employment . . .

    All that proves is that our right wing media is proficient at disseminating effective propaganda.

    Thank you Mr. Rupert Goebbels Murdoch!

    January 23, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  6. Christine

    Is the election Express actually going to TALK to someone. Or will it be scripted. I was in the audience at the Lou Dobbs Town Hall meeting a while back. He didn't talk to anyone. Producers pre-screened the people who could speak (I was one of the ones who was called.). Those people were seeded in the audience at strategic locations and then the producer told Lou who to point to and in what order (even though he pretended to be picking at random.) I couldn't even sit next to my own husband because they "spread" the African American's out to increase the appearance of diversity.

    CNN didn't learn much about what concerned our city (The families they featured in the audience were from out of town). Even during the breaks he talked to his all-male panel not the audience. And his commentators "Schneider, Rollins, etc. talked to each other. But Lou sold a lot of books. I guess that was the point?

    So my question is – is the CNN Election Express going to be unscripted? Or will it be more of the same fabricated drama created in the heads of the producers?

    If the latter – why bother?

    I love CNN, but now watch it with a skeptical eye because I got a chance to "peek" behind the curtain.

    January 23, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  7. Sally

    I am so discouraged.
    If the top candidates running were intelligent, people-savvy folks, they would slap their foreheads in unison and say, "Whoops! we are acting like kindergartners! Sorry folks, we are insulting your intelligence! We will stop now and talk about issues!!"
    I may have to vote for a Republican if this keeps up.......................

    January 23, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  8. Attacks by the Establishment on Ron Paul Continue

    The first job of the new President to see that we Americans are taken care of first before we go around the world bailing out everyone else.

    Ron Paul will remind us to mind our own business!

    January 23, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  9. dick allard

    I would like to know what kind of investors are driving the stocks down so darmatically and make money at the same time while doing so. logic will tell you those investor will lose at least 15 to 20 % of their investments, is it polical or just economic 2008.

    jusr currious.

    January 23, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  10. k. montgomery

    Deondre was making whatever comment that may have gotten him inside and a meal for the evening. And for these gentlemen to even ask him a question about the democratic or republican parties, was an insult. So of course he was saying whatever he has heard or read from newspapers and the media. What you should have been asking is where will you go for the night and is there anything we can do for you on a long term basis. Giving a dollar for the night is not going to fix his problem. Having resources available to him would help him more than anything. Come and ask a middle income worker what they think about either party.

    Angry in KC

    January 23, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  11. Leska

    I believe that all homeless people have access to the Internet if they go to a public library.

    January 23, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  12. Bonnie

    I'm sorry for Deondre's plight but does he not realize he is in the situation he is in under a REPUBLICAN president. Republicans = jobs? I don't think so. Look around people. Answer the old question (Are you better off today than you were four years ago or in this case 8 years ago?) I have been voting since JFK & Nixon ran. I can truthfully say Bush has been the worst President & our country is in the worst shape I have ever seen it. I feel sorry for the next President that comes in to clean up Bush's mess.

    January 23, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  13. mr.fair tax

    BONNIE IS CRAZY!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
    VOTE ROMNEY!!!!!!

    January 23, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  14. Kevin

    Universal health care sounded good until Obama explained that the problem is affordability. He is right. If health care was affordable people would buy it and we wouldn't have a problem. However, the whole discussion make you wonder what we are really trying to keep healthy, people or the insurance industry. What was health care like before insurance?

    Inglewood, Ca

    January 23, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |