Bush victory finds favor among troops in Europs
November 4, 2004
Finally, it’s over.
When Sen. John Kerry announced late Wednesday afternoon in Europe that he was conceding the election, President Bush was formally assured of a second term.
But the delay in the announcement had not dissuaded most voters from celebrating or commiserating earlier in the day.
The line to get in to the election-night party Tuesday at the Amerika Haus in Frankfurt, Germany, was almost as long as the ones at polling stations in the United States.
Inside, hundreds of people enjoyed free food and drinks as they watched the election results roll in. Among them was Republican Jeffrey Jowett, wearing a big “W ’04” sticker on his jacket.
At 4:30 a.m. CET, and Bush with a projected lead in electoral votes at 193-112, Jowett said he was very pleased. “I hoped it would be clear, but you can never be sure,” he said.
At the Army’s European headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany, soldiers were in early checking election results over the Internet, said Sgt. Jason Bostic. A bodyguard for top commanders, Bostic said the mood was upbeat.
“Probably 98 percent of the people in our detachment are for Bush, so most of us have been pretty excited,” said Bostic. “I don’t think people realize how many soldiers wouldn’t re-enlist if Kerry wins.”
His buddy and fellow bodyguard Sgt. Steven Hodson agreed. “If Kerry were to win, I’d probably wait to see how things went, but I’d lean very heavily on getting out of the Army,” he said.
Both point to record pay raises for those in uniform and improvements to quality of life while Bush has been in office as the foundation for their support.
“He’s for the military,” Hodson said of Bush. “He got us up to date with equipment and with pay and [has] done a good job running the war.”
In Bamberg, Germany, veteran and civilian employee Tim Gallton said he thought Bush had the election — even with Ohio’s vote in doubt.
“Based on what I saw on TV, I think Bush got it,” Gallton said. “It went the way I wanted it to, so I’m happy. I don’t want a Democrat in office right now. I don’t think that would be good for military people.”
TVs around Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy, ran non-stop election coverage as people ate. Most people seemed to ignore the sets, saying they were getting all the election news they could handle in their offices.
When White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said that Bush would take Ohio and declared an election victory, it brought cheers from those assembled at re-election headquarters, but didn’t elicit a peep from the handful of lunchtime slot-machine players in the Naples base club, unless one counted more coins being dropped into the machines.
Lt. j.g. Martin Kelly of the 6th Fleet staff just wanted the election to be over so that he could stop arguing with his parents.
“I’m strong one way and they’re strong for the other,” he said over lunch at the Naval Support Activity Naples Ciao Hall. “My family hates the Heinz family and Kerry.”
“I think that we can now move on,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Monte Blome, who had requested a ballot from his home state of South Dakota, but didn’t receive it before Election Day. “I would have voted for Bush, though.”
Both Blome and Kelly agreed that it isn’t just the Americans watching this election.
“I think the world sees this [election] as very important,” Blome, also of the 6th Fleet staff, said. “We’re seen as the last great superpower in the world and we affect the rest of the world in a lot of ways.”
“The world sees the values of the American people by who gets elected,” said Kelly, an Atlanta native.
During lunchtime in Darmstadt, Germany, troops rushed in and out of Kelley Barracks, where someone had written “Stop Bush!” with chalk on the sidewalk just outside the back gate.
Regardless of what the ground declared, troops said they thought Bush would win.
“I look forward to pay raises. That’s one thing he’s given us: money,” said Spc. Richard Swinimer, of the 22nd Signal Brigade. He chose not to vote because he said neither candidate appealed to him.
“I don’t necessarily agree with the war in Iraq and I’m concerned about some of Bush’s policies,” said Spc. Brandon Doyle, of the 105th Military Intelligence Battalion, who voted, but wouldn’t say who he voted for.
Spc. Katherine Freasier said she voted for Kerry, but that she wasn’t holding her breath waiting for him to be announced the new president.
Later in the lunch hour, Staff Sgt. Daryl Hurey, of Company A, 32nd Signal Battalion, asked, “Haven’t you heard the latest?”
He said news reports announced the Bush camp certain of a win. He voted for Kerry, but he wasn’t too disappointed in the news.
“He’s got it wrapped up,” Hurey said. “I work for him and I’m going to keep working for him. Plus, he didn’t do too bad with the military. He might not have taken care of the economy so well, but he’s good with the troops and military families.”
Other troops were more emphatic about their choice.
“I don’t like hippies and I think Kerry’s a hippie,” said Spc. Daryl Stoneman, of Company A, 32nd Signal Battalion, who took a second to spit on the “Stop Bush!” sign. He said he thought Kerry was just piggybacking off Bush’s platform during the debates.
First-time voter Petty Officer 3rd Class Justin Barlock of Naples Security took a more personal reason for wanting the election to be over.
“It’ll get us out of [force protection condition] Charlie,” he said, waiting for his turn to play air hockey in the single sailor lounge.
Stripes reporters Michael Abrams, Rick Emert, Jessica Inigo and Jon Anderson contributed to this story.