[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/25/art.preston1.cnn.jpg caption="CNN's Mark Preston interviews Lester Gilbert."]ABOARD THE ELECTION EXPRESS, ABILENE, Texas (CNN) – Lester Gilbert is 75, and he is still working. His wife is 81, and she has a job. The Gilberts don’t need to be employed, but they choose to work.
We met him in the early morning hours Friday at a truck stop as he refueled before getting back on the road. Gilbert delivers recreational vehicles for a living, and he said he is not happy with the decisions being made in Washington that are impacting the economy such as the bipartisan agreement reached Thursday on a stimulus package.
“It is OK to help people, but they put themselves in debt,” Gilbert said. “I didn’t do it, and I am going to bail them out? I don’t agree with it.”
As for the subprime mortgage issue, Gilbert said people need to personally pay the price if they are not able to afford their homes.
“Let them go belly up like I did. I never went belly, belly up, but I had to crawl and I had to do without. People don’t do without. That is the problem.”
Gilbert lives in Petersburg, Illinois, but his perspective on the economy is shaped by not only what happens in his own backyard, but what he sees as he motors down the nation’s interstate highways. Gilbert said he thinks that talk of a recession is overblown.
“It’s not weak like they think it is,” he said. “I go all over this country. People are not doing without.”
A self-described conservative, Gilbert said the politicians in Washington and presidential candidates need to change their tune.
“I want them to go back to the basics,” he said. “Just the basics.”
- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston