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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs