Lifelong Republican Voter In Ohio Feels Disenfranchised By Her Party
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep in Cincinnati, Ohio, one of the divided states. We're meeting Ohio voters heading into this weekend of a presidential debate. After the debate, on Monday, we bring them together to ask what they thought. Esther Honig of WOSU connected us with one voter on her back porch in New Albany, outside Columbus.
What do you see from the back porch there? Are these really nice houses?
ESTHER HONIG, BYLINE: Yeah, yeah absolutely, some big, brick houses, lots of white picket fences. And this area's really touted as being one of the nicest suburbs in the country, so you have all of these big, beautiful open parks. New Albany is really well known for their golf courses, their country club. So it's definitely a level of luxury that maybe the rest of Ohio and especially - absolutely the rest of the country maybe isn't as familiar with.
INSKEEP: I'm remembering a truism about your part of Ohio also - that there's a lot of Democratic votes around Cleveland, a lot of Republican votes in the southern part of the state around Cincinnati. And elections can be decided around Columbus, where things could go either way.
HONIG: Right, right. Well, Columbus is predominantly Democratic. But you go out into the suburbs and there is more of a Republican stronghold. So for example, New Albany in the last three presidential elections, actually, voted Republican.
INSKEEP: So who's the voter that you found there on the back porch?
HONIG: This is Katie Rooney. And Katie Rooney is a mother of three, and she works from home for an investment firm out here in New Albany.
INSKEEP: Why don't you hand over the phone? We'd like to say hi.
KATIE ROONEY: Hello?
INSKEEP: Hi, Ms. Rooney.
INSKEEP: Hey, it's Steve Inskeep. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today.
ROONEY: Oh, thanks for caring what I say.
INSKEEP: I hope it's nice there on the back porch.
ROONEY: It is. It's a lovely fall day.
INSKEEP: That's great. How old are your children?
ROONEY: I have three children. My son is the baby. He's 3. And then my daughters are 9 and 7.
INSKEEP: So what concerns do you have about them, their lives or their future?
ROONEY: I see the world changing, and I just want them to be good people. That means I want them to be accepting of people, no matter, you know, what their views are politically, what the color of their skin is, what god they worship. I just want them to be inclusive, and I want the world to just be a better place.
INSKEEP: I think you said the country is changing. In what way do you feel it changing?
ROONEY: Well, I feel quite a divide in our country. And I know that there's a lot of conversation about the haves and the have-nots, but really, I just think it's between people who are kind and those who are not kind. And I think that that really begins with this shift in our culture to, you know, everybody's a celebrity. And so things like having a major party nominee really be a reality TV star is sad to me.
INSKEEP: Do you consider yourself a Republican or Democrat?
ROONEY: I was born and raised in a Republican family, and I have mostly identified with Republican Party. And I have found myself very disenfranchised over the last several elections and don't really feel like - although I say I'm a Republican, may not necessarily line up with the views of the Republican Party, at least not my views.
INSKEEP: So what are you thinking about this presidential election?
ROONEY: I think it's very clear (laughter). I am a lifelong Republican, and I will be voting for Hillary Clinton.
INSKEEP: Is that unusual for you in presidential elections, to vote for the Democrat?
ROONEY: It is. I did not vote for Bill, but I will vote for Hill.
INSKEEP: Why is that?
ROONEY: Well, number one, I don't believe that there's anybody who's been more groomed for this role, who is more prepared. You know, for me, the Republican Party nominee just isn't (laughter). He's not suited for office, and it's really sort of a no-contest vote for me. There are lots of really wonderful things about Hillary Clinton that I support and about having a woman in the White House, what that means for me, what that means for my daughters, even more importantly. And, you know, that's certainly not lost on me.
INSKEEP: Do I detect a little reluctance to say the name of Donald Trump?
ROONEY: The thing about it is is I don't need to make him seem smaller in order to make Hillary seem bigger. She just is.
INSKEEP: What do you mean by that?
ROONEY: I don't need to criticize him. I feel as though anybody who listens to the things that he says - you know, my daughters - I speak to them about everything. And I apologize to my son. I don't mean to exclude him, but he's 3. And so he's more interested in banging things around than watching a political debate on TV. But...
INSKEEP: And perhaps all of us should be, honestly.
ROONEY: (Laughter) Yes. But, you know, my daughters are very interested in it. And they proudly run around school these days in their shirts that say future president. And that makes me really proud because I think, for so long, it's just been something that we say but didn't really believe. And now for little girls everywhere and for little boys, I think we can all really believe in that.
But I'm embarrassed that he is a part of this because - and by he, I mean the Republican nominee - because I want my kids to be educated about the process. But I don't want them staying up late on school nights to listen to somebody just bad-mouth everybody. And he believes that that makes him look stronger. And it terrifies me when I think about so many people who all they can see is the party line and will support him because of that.
INSKEEP: Let me ask about Hillary Clinton's experience. She had a tenure as secretary of state that can be criticized because many things did go wrong in the world - tried for a reset with Russia that hasn't worked out; the Arab Spring started out looking very positive, didn't turn out very positive at all. How do you feel about her time as secretary of state?
ROONEY: I feel like she tries. As soon as there is any one of us, especially a politician who can say that they got it right every single time, then they can criticize what she has done. And the message that I teach my children is that you will fail, but you can't unless you try.
INSKEEP: Well, Katie Rooney, I've enjoyed talking with you and look forward to talking with you again after the debate.
ROONEY: Thanks so much for the opportunity.
INSKEEP: She's one of four Ohio voters we will bring together here in Cincinnati the morning after Sunday night's presidential debate. Many NPR stations will cover that debate live and our reporters will be online fact-checking the candidates in real time at npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.