Caution On Obama At American Legion Post

Members of John McCain's American Legion post in Tempe, Ariz., discuss the upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama, and their hopes and fears about his administration. Many supported McCain, but say they are willing to give Obama a chance.

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

We're going now to McCain country, to American Legion Post II in Tempe Arizona. It's John McCain's post. As McCain's former rival prepares to move into the White House, NPR's Ted Robbins stopped by to talk to post members about their hopes and their worries.

TED ROBBINS: Just inside the entrance of American Legion Post II, a table is set up so members of the auxiliary can collect money for Friday night dinner. Auxiliary members are wives and daughters of vet, like Ethel Gillespie, a tiny woman originally from New York. She says she'll be watching the inauguration at home with her husband, who fought in World War II. They were McCain supporters, but she's willing to give Obama a chance.

ETHEL GILLESPIE: It's over, it's done. They voted him in, you know?

ROBBINS: All right, well, so, you're willing to accept him as your president?

GILLESPIE: Of course, what can I do?

ROBBINS: Many of the other 40 or so members refused to talk. They sit drinking at the bar in the long, dark, smoky room. Some open up reluctantly. Among them, a group of long-haired and bearded Legion Riders - a motorcycle club made up of sons of veterans.

BARNEY MULLINS: My name's Barney Mullins.

MAD DOG: My name's "Mad Dog" Mike, father was in the coast guard.

ROBBINGS: Barney Mullins and "Mad Dog" Mike were also McCain voters. Obama's going to have to prove himself to Mullins.

MULLINS: Everything that he was for, I was against. Now that he's president, I'm praying that next election he does such a good job that I'll be - just can't wait to vote for him. That's what I'm praying for. He's our commander-in-chief now, we got to take it.

ROBBINS: "Mad Dog" Mike's biggest worry is that Obama will not live up to certain campaign promises.

BENNETT: Like his claims that he's not against the Second Amendment and gun rights.

ROBBINS: He pats a patch on the back of his vest. It says, benefactor - National Rifle Association.

BENNETT: My ancestors supplied arms for the continental army. Without the Second Amendment, we have no other rights.

ROBBINS: Linda Topham(ph) has very different political views. She sits way down at the end of the bar. She volunteered for Obama during the elections, so she's delighted to see inauguration day arrive.

LINDA TOPHAM: Absolutely, I can't wait. I'm sorry that he couldn't jump right in at the time he was elected, because I think that we're wasting time on this economic thing.

ROBBINS: The economy is the biggest concern here. Back up front, Ethel Gillespie has seen hard times before. She says, Obama voters - all Americans - better have patience.

GILLESPIE: I was born in '27. I was 2 years old when the stock market crashed. Do you know when - how long it took us to come out of that Depression? (Laughing) I was 12 or 13 when we started to climb out. That's a long time to have to pinch pennies and everything.

ROBBINS: If it comes to that, Friday nights might get more crowded at American Legion Post II in Tempe. Dinner is a roast beef sandwich, chips and coleslaw for a very reasonable six bucks. Tedd Robbins, NPR News.

NORRIS: And we have a request for you. We would like to hear from people across the country on inauguration day, whether you're braving the cold in Washington, D.C., or watching it on TV in Arizona. Send us text messages, tweets, photos, videos and audio. You can find out how to send any one of those things at npr.org/inaugurationreport.

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