Indiana Voter Who Introduced Obama In 2009 Remains Undecided This Election
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
When President Obama first visited Elkhart back in 2009, he was introduced by a man named Ed Neufeldt. Neufeldt didn't vote for Obama. At the time, he'd recently lost his job at an RV factory.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
ED NEUFELDT: I am hoping and praying and believing that President Obama will put the people in Elkhart County and the country back to work.
SHAPIRO: As Obama became a much more polarizing president, Ed Neufeldt got a little shy talking about that introduction. Here's what he told NPR last year.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)
NEUFELDT: If we go out somewhere, which is not very often, they'll say, oh, did you know Ed introduced President Obama? And I used to - years ago, I was kind of proud. Now I say sh, don't tell anybody.
SHAPIRO: I talked to Ed Neufeldt on the phone earlier today, and he has now gone from unemployed to having three part-time jobs. I asked him if working three jobs is a good thing or a sign he's actually struggling.
NEUFELDT: I'm not really struggling. You know, financially, I think I'm doing good. And I just do it so I can do extra things like, oh, maybe take some of my children out to eat or doing stuff for the grandchildren. And, you know, I'd like to be an example maybe to some of the young people that if a 70-year-old man can work three part-time jobs, well, maybe a young person can work one or two to make ends meet.
SHAPIRO: Does it feel like the town has recovered?
NEUFELDT: Oh, yes. Back in 2009, nobody was hiring. And now, you know, you can go down the road and there's help-wanted signs all over.
SHAPIRO: So President Obama visits Elkhart today to take some credit for that. Do you give him credit for it?
NEUFELDT: You know, it happened on his watch, so I will give him a little bit of credit.
SHAPIRO: He's obviously not running for a third term. If he was would you vote for him?
NEUFELDT: Well, I had to come out and tell you that I am a - real big on pro-life, and President Obama believes in abortion and that's the reason I didn't vote for him the first time around.
SHAPIRO: So have you decided who you are going to vote for this time around?
NEUFELDT: No, I haven't. You know, it's gotten crazy the way things are going now. Who do you vote for?
SHAPIRO: On the economy, who do you think would do a better job?
NEUFELDT: I think Trump would do a better job on the economy.
SHAPIRO: So, you know, I could imagine people looking and saying, hey, unemployment has dropped, gas prices are low, a Democrat's been in the White House. Why would you think that a Republican will do a better job?
NEUFELDT: (Laughter) You know, I can't really answer that question. I don't think - I don't know if the reason the Democrats have been - had control for eight years - if that's the reason that we're really prospering around Northern Indiana or not.
You know, they have a radio commercial that comes out that says that Governor Mike Pence is responsible for bringing a hundred thousand jobs to Elkhart and the surrounding area. You know, he's a Republican.
SHAPIRO: And do you think he's the guy who got the job done? Do you think President Obama's the guy who got the job done? Neither of them?
NEUFELDT: Let's give both of them a little credit for doing that.
SHAPIRO: (Laughter) In your community when you talk to folks over, you know, dinner or dropping the kids or grandkids off school, are people generally feeling pretty positive or negative about this presidential election?
NEUFELDT: I don't know. I think they're kind of like me. They don't know what to think. You know, with Donald Trump, you know, I like how bold he is and stuff, but I just don't know what, you know - what he's going to do in the near future.
You know, it kind of scares me, and maybe if get into war or something because he's the person that - you know, if you say something about him or something, he - it seems like he has to retaliate. And I don't know if that's good as a leader or not.
SHAPIRO: So do you still consider yourself an undecided voter or are you pretty sure you're going to vote for Trump?
NEUFELDT: Oh, man. I don't really know - probably since I'm a Republican, but, you know, maybe they'll bring somebody else in there. I don't know.
SHAPIRO: Well, Ed Neufeldt, thank you so much for talking with us.
NEUFELDT: Hey, you are welcome.
SHAPIRO: That was 70-year-old Ed Neufeldt of Elkhart, Ind.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.