Through a stroke of luck, I’ve come across secret transcripts of an interview by an unidentified journalist and the American voter who remains undecided. A lifelong small-town Missourian, “Jack” (not his real name) runs a successful home-based, mower repair business.
Jack is 54 years old, married to “Ivy” (her real name) and they have three young-adult sons. Jack has voted in every election since he came of age and declines to state a party preference. He has voted Republican, Democrat, Green, Perot, Independent, Peace and Freedom, Nader and other ways over the years.
Jack is identified throughout the transcripts. The journalist is identified by his/her pseudonym, Bill.
Bill: “Well, Jack which way are you leaning with respect to a presidential candidate?”
Jack: “You know Bill, it’s hard to believe, but I haven’t made up my mind just yet.”
Bill: “Wow. What’s the main issue you can’t decide on? Jobs, taxes, Iran, the deficit, or what?”
Jack: “Pretty much all of those and plenty more such as contraceptive availability for Catholics, for instance. I like Romney’s position on that, but I like Obama for keeping the kids on our insurance for a few more years. Tough call for me.”
Bill: “I see what you mean Jack. How about Syria and Middle East policy, any movement there?”
Jack: “I was close just the other day when Romney said he’d really talk tough to those people, but then the president came along with that smash-mouth speech at the U.N., and I’m back to square one.”
Bill: “I get it. You like both men for their tough stances on Syria and the Middle East.”
Jack: “That’s right Bill. Exactly right. I’m troubled by Obama’s apparent lack of support for Israel’s plan to bomb Iran’s nuclear plants. On the other hand, Romney’s aggressiveness scares me a little too. I don’t want my boys having to go to war over there.”
Bill: “Immigration seems to set the two apart. Any thoughts on immigration policy?”
Jack: “I don’t like the idea that so many people have come here illegally, so I’m kind of with Romney on that. Yet, we can’t really deport all those people, especially the kids. I like Obama’s idea for letting the kids go to school or go into the service.”
Bill: “A dilemma for sure. The Keystone Pipeline issue could give you some direction. Am I right?”
Jack: “Wouldn’t you think! We need the jobs and cheaper oil. No doubt. But, as I understand it, the darn thing would run right through the Little League field down the street. We don’t want that. No way.”
Bill: “Does the Buffett Rule do anything for you Jack?”
Jack: “Bingo there Bill. Folks in that category should pay a bit more than people like me. I like Obama on the Buffett Rule. But I’m not crazy about the government simply having yet more money to waste.”
Bill: “Ok, I think we’re getting somewhere. Rich people should pay more but government should waste less. Is that it?”
Jack: “It’s close Bill, real close. The problem is that each guy wants to ‘waste less’ on different things. Obama would waste less on defense. Romney would waste less on Social Security. I’m sure you can see my point.”
Bill: “Jack, what I am beginning to see is why you are the last undecided voter in America. What are you going to do come November 6th?”
Jack: “I honestly don’t know Bill. Maybe the debates will help me make a decision.”
Bill: “The debates, of course, why didn’t I think of that? Well then, who do you like for the debates?”
Jack: “I really like Obama’s ‘style’ I guess you’d call it. Kind of loose, but right on target, you know. Pretty hard to get one-up on him. Romney, though, there’s something engaging about him, like you’re always waiting for something exciting to just blast right out of him.”
Bill: “That doesn’t sound very decisive on your part Jack. Assuming that you eventually do choose one or the other, will you vote by mail or in person?”
Jack: “You’re just messing with me now, aren’t you Bill? I can’t decide that far ahead.”
Bill: “I kind of was just then Jack. OK, last try. I’ll say a bunch of hot button words or word sets and you give me your best shot at which candidate you’d support regarding each issue. Afghanistan, drugs, abortion, vouchers, Muslims, China, deficit, ethanol, Palestinians, fracking, EPA, Congress, Rubio, Christie, Libya, Prayer-in-school, Simpson-Bowles. Take it away Jack.”
Jack: “Ok, I’m good. Obama, Obama, Romney, Romney, Romney, Obama, Romney, Obama, Romney, Obama, Obama, Obama, Romney, Romney, Obama, Romney, Obama and Romney. How’d I do?”
Bill: “Great Jack. You ended with a heads-up tie.”
Jack: “No kidding? Well, let’s try it again. I’m pretty sure I can tip the scales one way or the other.”
Bill: “I’m out of time Jack. You just keep working on that list, and I’m sure you’ll find a decision. And can we plan on another interview in 2016?”
Jack” “You got it Bill. See you then, maybe.”
The transcripts end here.
Chris Daley is a staff writer and columnist for the Mountain Democrat. His column appears each Friday.