Iraq, Experience Key In Election For Walsh, Colo. For residents of Walsh., Colo., population 700, Tuesday's presidential vote will center on the war in Iraq and the experience of the candidates. NPR's David Greene returns to the farming community that he visited earlier in the campaign to gauge the mood just before Election Day.
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Iraq, Experience Key In Election For Walsh, Colo.

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Iraq, Experience Key In Election For Walsh, Colo.

Iraq, Experience Key In Election For Walsh, Colo.

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Both times that President Bush won the White House, he depended on huge support from small towns. This fall, NPR's David Greene has been checking in with one small town in a battleground state: Walsh, Colorado, population 700.

DAVID GREENE: Walsh is in the southeast corner of Colorado, and the drive to get there is long and lonely, except for occasional cattle. Finally, the grain elevator in Walsh comes into view. This town is just a few blocks in each direction, but the campaign yard signs are out. Most are McCain-Palin. Walsh is full of Republicans like Mayor Clarence Jones.

Mayor CLARENCE JONES (Walsh, Colorado): We're loading oats out of the bin into the truck to transport them out to the feed yard.

GREENE: Mayor Jones is a farmer. And he tells me about the news he got recently. His only son, Tyler, will likely be deployed to Iraq next year. He's part of a National Guard artillery unit.

Mayor JONES: As a parent, you spend your whole life protecting your children. And then they go off somewhere where people are trying to kill them.

GREENE: This changed the way he thought about the election.

Mayor JONES: You know, the whole gist so far has been that McCain would stay longer and long term there. So that really kind of took me back a little bit. I had to sit and think about that real hard.

GREENE: And after thinking, he decided to stick with McCain. In the end, he says, he just wants someone with experience in that Oval Office. He did give Barack Obama a close look.

Mayor JONES: He seems to stay calm and cool and collected. But it's almost too much. It's just a little too smooth for my way of thinking.

GREENE: So the Mayor is dealing with his son, Tyler, possibly heading for Iraq. Tyler's wife, Carol Morrow, is dealing with the news as well.


Ms. CAROL MORROW: She's kind of obsessed with dogs.

GREENE: I meet Carol and her 15-month-old daughter just up the street from the Mayor. Carol's long been against the war, and she feels like her vote for Barack Obama tomorrow is one step towards bringing Americans like, perhaps, her husband out of Iraq.

Ms. MORROW: I think it's just - it's pointless for him to go. And that's why I'm so hugely involved and have been hugely involved with Obama from the beginning.

GREENE: This town may seem far from everything. People talk about a three-hour drive to the big city: Amarillo, Texas. Still, far-flung as it is, Walsh could not be more engaged in this campaign.

Mr. ALAN PACKARD (Preschool Teacher): Is the world better off because of Jesus? Well, why there's no question about that.

GREENE: That's the sound of play rehearsal in the evening here. And afterwards everyone's eager to talk politics. One question in this red state is whether Republicans who've been tempted by Obama will actually vote for him. Alan Packard sounds tempted. He's here at play rehearsal. Alan's a preschool teacher, and says these images of Obama with his young girls have conjured memories of John F. Kennedy.

Mr. PACKARD: I love the idea of having a president in our White House with young kids, you know. And I just think that that would be a great thing for our country.

GREENE: But Alan is voting for McCain. He says he's too nervous about how much Obama might spend as president working with a Democratic-led Congress.

Mr. PACKARD: I'm a whole lot more afraid of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid than I am of Barack Obama.

GREENE: It's a different story from Michaela Girodat. She's 25 and owns a hair styling shop. She's a Republican, voted for Hillary Clinton, then was onboard with Sarah Palin.

Ms. MICHEALA GIRODAT (Owner, Hair Styling Shop): Bless her heart, I was rooting for her, you know. I was because she's a woman. And I'm not women's lib or anything, but, hey, it's exciting.

GREENE: But over time, Michaela says, she felt like Palin rarely gave substantive answers to questions.

Ms. GIRODAT: Can't they understand that we just want to hear about the issues and we just want to hear where they stand? To me, Obama answered the questions. It's a relief almost.

GREENE: One relief for a lot of people here is that this never-ending campaign is really about to end. And yet Dolly Morrow, a schoolteacher, says following the campaign online all these months has been kind of addictive.

Ms. DOLLY MORROW (Schoolteacher): Here, you can get kind of isolated.

GREENE: On Wednesday, what are you going to do with the time that you were spending looking at polls and jumping on the Internet.

Ms. MORROW: Oh, I don't know. I'll probably watch some of my reality shows again, go back to "Top Chef" and some of those. But I don't know. I hope maybe it will keep me in the mood to stay on top of what's next.

GREENE: David Greene, NPR News.

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