October 24th, 2008
06:00 PM ET
12 years ago

On the Trail: Republican drives 600 miles to vote for Obama

Aaron Wheeler said he's voting Democrat for the first time ever.

Aaron Wheeler said he's voting Democrat for the first time ever.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNN) - Sometimes you stumble on stories. Thursday was one of those times.

We were outside Veterans’ Memorial in Columbus reporting on early voting. I approached a man with an “ I just voted” sticker on his lapel to ask him whether he’d encountered any lines. The “lines weren’t bad” he said, with a broad smile. Lines were the last thing on Aaron Wheeler’s mind as he explained why he drove 600 miles back to his old hometown from Virginia, where he moved this month, to vote in what he called “one of the proudest days” of his life.

“My family has been Republican for three generations,” he said, but “I knew I had to change and vote Democrat in the first time almost ever.”

Wheeler said he was one of about 16 black Republican delegates at the 2004 GOP convention, and was proud to support George W. Bush.

This time, he said, he did not attend the Republican convention –and decided he would go one step further and vote for Democrat Barack Obama.

What’s influencing his vote? The economy was one factor, he said. But said he he made his decision “when I saw Barack Obama beaten down for no reason by negative things by Palin.”

Wheeler reminisced about marching with Martin Luther King as a boy, and referred to the slain civil rights leader when he told me he voted for Barack Obama… “not just because of his color….but in the words of Dr. King, the content of his character.”

“Tears come out of my eyes as I cast my ballot,” he said. “I voted for Barack Obama today.”

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (391 Responses)
  1. Joce

    Racism and discrimination has always existed in this country and probably always will. Both McCain & Palin's negative campaigning has given people permision to be just as publicly discriminating and racist as they have been. Just my opinion. I'm an Independent who will be voting early for Obama. Great story.

    October 24, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  2. JNC, California

    This story actually made me feel good...As an African American I hope we rebuild our community and unite as a country. Yes we can!!! Si Se Puede!!! Baack the vote 08!

    October 24, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  3. Rose

    Wow! This story moved me as well! Thanks CNN for finding a positive light in this negative mess of politics! Obama 08

    October 24, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  4. Disclaimer

    My first time to vote daughter turned me on to this story. This is a change we can all be proud of. I think Obama is going to restore incredible honor to America the world over. Decency will will the day.

    October 25, 2008 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  5. Sharon

    I will never forget I was 11yrs old when my father took me to Washington to see and here MLK speak. The election is changing the course of history. I believe we would overcome all obstacle. So remember to vote on Nov 4th. Obama / Biden

    October 25, 2008 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  6. Praying in Cali

    May God Bless all of you and the USA. We will all need to come together on Nov5th. Even McCain supports have a right to vote.
    Thanks Aaron!!!

    October 25, 2008 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  7. Glowbaby

    I too, like this man, am so excited and proud to vote for Obama/Biden 2008. This is history in the making and so important. GET OUT AND VOTE EARLY! Its not over yet!

    October 25, 2008 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  8. J in Ct

    Let's hope the Republicans dont try to make his vote not count since he says he moved. Who knows – they may say it is some kind of voter fraud. Is there a way to monitor if the Republicans try such a stunt with his particular vote?

    October 25, 2008 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  9. tasty sammich

    Wheeler is a true patriot, whomever he voted for. It brings a tear to my eye to know that he went out of his way to exercise his rights. God Bless America!

    (though he does get brownie points for backing the big O)

    October 25, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  10. Sara


    October 25, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  11. Barbara GA

    Great story. I get this feeling that a lot of republicans will be voting for Obama/Biden. More republicans will be changing their votes this term than democrats.

    October 25, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  12. mohmmad


    October 25, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  13. Mitch from Canada

    To Jack, who said as an American he doesn't care what Canadians think. You should. The world is for Obama, and our leaders here have already stated that we would be all too ready to drop the US and do business with other countries. You rely on our oil and lumber exports more than you know, and anything we get from you, we can get elsewhere. We are your closest ally, don't trifle with that relationship. We stood up to you on Iraq, and took over the war in Afghanistan when you relinquished command in the region. If Obama wins, you will have nothing but respect from me and most of my nation. As it stands now or with McCain/Palin, your country will become a joke, and lose it's superpower status and our respect. I am a Canadian for Obama. Don't be so quick to ignore what the world wants.

    October 25, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  14. Mitch from Canada

    Sorry, my last comment should have been directed at "capitalist" and not jack. I am reading this on my iPhone and it is not really clear where the comments start and end.

    October 25, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  15. buckeye2081

    Ignorance is not a culture it is a setback or a standstill in any civilization so we/us (americans) needs to filter it out of america! 4obama

    October 25, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  16. shelly

    I want to commend everyone of different diversity and ethnic backrounds . Obama is already doing his job. He's bringing people together. WE ALL ARE DOING OUR PART VOTING AND INSPIRING OTHERS TO DO SO! GOD BLESS U SIR U ARE A INSPIRATION TO ALL ETHNIC BACKROUNDS. From an african american sister.

    October 25, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
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