Pennsylvania's voters speak out

Democratic voters want both candidates to tackle more pertinent issues.

    Pennsylvania's primary could prove crucial to the Democratic race [GALLO/GETTY]

    As part of Al Jazeera's coverage of the US presidential election, correspondent Kimberly Halkett met a group of Pennsylvania Democrats in the city of Allentown, Pennsylvania's third largest city, to discuss the upcoming Democratic primary.

    With their primary coming so late on the nominating calendar, Pennsylvanians were not expecting to be so important to the outcome of the race, but are taking their role in this election very seriously.

    Both senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been criss-crossing the state courting potential voters. 

    Pennsylvania voters are very diverse, living in both urban and rural areas. In other states, white working-class voters have been leaning towards Clinton, while younger voters have been drawn to Obama's message of hope and change. 

    'A changing world'

    Historian Frank Whelan said he is worried about Allentown's future. 

    Frank says he will vote for Obama in 
    Pennsylvania's polls on Tuesday
    America's steel industry used to be the main employer in the region, but after years of decline, the industry is now defunct.

    "Allentown has gone through a lot ... I think of the steel industry as a wonderful industry in its time, but that time is over ... that time has passed and you have to adapt to a changing world," he said.

    "That's what I like about Barack Obama, because he knows what needs to be done and will do it."

    However Jennifer Reyes said she is still undecided. 

    "I'm leaning towards Obama because he represents my generation's point of views, but I'm really not sure what I'm going to do when I get into that voting booth."

    Looking for change

    Housewife Karen Tuerk likes both candidates.

    "They're both amazing, so I'm going to be happy no matter what the outcome is."

    Karen says she hopes whoever is elected will
    concentrate on domestic issues
    But the idea of Hillary Clinton becoming the next president thrills her.

    "I have two daughters, and the thought of seeing a woman president inaugurated in my lifetime, let alone theirs, it makes me emotional."

    All three voters agreed they wanted to see change in the White House. 

    "Bush has been there for too long and has made enough errors and now we're all having to pay for it," said Reyes. 

    Tuerk added that the threat of a terrorist attack is not the most pressing issue for her, as she would like the next US president "to look inward to problems in our country, gun control laws and better education, rather than worrying about things that might happen".

    Whelan, who works at a local history museum, recalled what one of America's first presidents once said: "It is not the purpose of the United States to go about the world seeking monsters to destroy."

    Immigration concerns

    But this group of Pennsylvania Democrats was disappointed that the candidates were not focusing on some important issues, including illegal immigration. 

    Jennifer wants the candidates to concentrate
    more on immigration
    Reyes, whose family came from Central America 30 years ago, said: "A lot has been said about getting illegals out of this country because they don't belong here and I think it's something our next president should look at.

    "I don't think that's right ... they make a difference ... there needs to be something done instead of just sending them back and saying to the rest of the world we don't accept anyone who doesn't look like us."

    Tuerk added: "The fact that a wall is being built between the US and Mexico, it leaves me speechless." 

    "I remember when the Berlin wall came down and what a global celebration that was. We're doing the same thing, and it's crazy to me.  I would hope the next president would put a stop to that immediately."

    The Pennsylvania Democratic primary is not likely to end the race for either Obama or Clinton, but it will provide all important momentum for the winning candidate, leading him or her one step closer to the nomination. 

    Reyes said she will rally around whoever the eventual nominee is.

    "I don't think it matters who the candidate is at this point ... we have a pretty good chance against John McCain.  I think that's what Democrats in Pennsylvania want."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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