Independent Voter Shines in US Political Spotlight

Chris Simkins
In U.S. Presidential politics, President Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney are making a final push for votes in battleground states where key groups, like female voters, could decide the outcome of the November election.

One of those voters who has been thrust into the political spotlight and courted by Democrats and Republicans is Melanie McNamara, who owns a small furniture company in High Point, North Carolina.  She is one of only a few manufacturers left in the city once called the "furniture capital of the world."  McNamara promotes the "Made in America" cause.

"It is important for my city, it's important for my state and it's important for my country to still offer manufacturing jobs," McNamara said.

Her business success has catapulted her into the spotlight of presidential politics.  She represents a demographic group - white female independent voters - that presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each need to win the election.

"Women are smart enough to see what is going on in this economy and they are not just one-issue voters," McNamara said.

President Obama is trying to hold onto his support among white women.  A recent (Washington Post / ABC News ) opinion poll suggests the president is trailing Mitt Romney in support among whites and among independent voters.  Obama won independent voters in 2008.

McNamara voted for Obama in 2008, but now supports Mitt Romney.  She says the economy is her number one issue.

"I have seen in the last four years that not only manufacturing jobs have left but so many people are out of work here [in North Carolina] and I also see incomes dropping.  When I go to the grocery store and I see people that are taking things out of their cart because they cannot afford them, that hits home," she said.

After the Romney campaign heard about McNamara they came calling, and she agreed to host a Romney rally at her furniture plant.  It was a thrilling moment for her.

"When I had him here it was also nice to see him as an individual and not just the candidate that you see on TV making a speech," McNamara said.

The Romney campaign made McNamara's story the topic of a TV political ad.

Until now McNamara has not been active in politics.  But she says it was time to speak out against proposed tax increases she says will hurt small business owners.

"If I do not have the revenue and I am going to be paying more taxes on everything else, then I am not going to have the revenue to grow my business, and if I cannot grow my business I cannot hire that next employee," she said.

McNamara says being  an independent voter, courted by various political candidates, gives her a chance to voice ideas for improving the nation's economy by bringing manufacturing jobs back to an area of the country that needs them.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs