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Battleground Virginia: In Hampton Rds., Worry Over Possible Defense Cuts

10:35 PM, Oct 24, 2012   |    comments
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HAMPTON ROADS,  Va. (WUSA) -  Day Three of our Battleground Virginia tour has brought our crew to the Southeastern part of the Commonwealth.

The latest Gallup poll numbers show the presidential race is as tight as ever, with President Obama at 47% and Governor Romney with 50%.

Romney outpaces the president among likely voters in the Gallup survey, 50 percent to 47 percent, but the gap has closed significantly since last Sunday, when Gallup put the Republican nominee ahead by 7 points, 52 to 45 percent

Andrea McCarren takes us to an area with a striking contrast of opinions.

We're in Hampton Roads, the shipbuilding capital of the world. This is a region with a huge military presence and a local economy heavily dependent on defense spending.

"My name is Sean Devlin. I'm a machinist and mechanic on the USS Roosevelt. And I work for Newport News shipbuilding," said Romney supporter Sean Devlin.

"My name's Thomas Bell, I'm the District Manager for Iron Workers Local 79 in Norfolk, Virginia," said Obama supporter Thomas Bell.

Two men, both with military backgrounds.

"I'm not afraid to stand up for my country. I put my life out there almost 20 years. And I'm not afraid to do it again," Devlin said.

Thomas Bell said, "No party has the lock on patriotism. A monopoly on it. I myself am a US Army veteran. Spent time in the 25th infantry division in the mid 90s. Plenty of union members have also served."

They work in related fields.

"I'm very proud of it. When I was in Desert Storm, I guided a lot of these aircraft in on targets, taking out the enemy. This was my lifeline," said Devlin.

"I like to say we don't build the ships. We build the shipyards. We work on the bases, built the buildings there. Bridges, infrastructure. That's the type of work that we do," Bell said.

They support different candidates, but agree this election is about improving a damaged economy.

Devlin said, "I'll even concede and say okay, Bush did it. Alright? President Obama said he was gonna fix it. He was gonna cut the deficit in half. He hasn't done that. He said he was going to cut the unemployment rate in half. He hasn't done that. He's had four years to do it."

"You can't do anything if you don't have a job. All the other issues kind of fall secondary if you're not able to provide for your family," Bell said.

This part of Virginia is unusual. Here, sequestration is an especially unwelcome word.

"It's the worry that if those budget cuts actually take place January 1st, that the Hampton Roads economy is going to come to a screeching halt," Quentin Kidd, a political scientist at Christopher Newport University.

This election, says Kidd, will depend on voter turnout.

"It's now a game of who turns out their voters. Not Virginia's conservative, just get Virginians to vote and it will be a Republican state. But whose voters vote? And that's what makes Virginia a purple state," Kidd said.

When asked about the coming election's importance, Sean Devlin repliec, " Ahh, it's probably the most important election that I've ever been through and I'm 63 years old so that kind of tells you how many I've been through. We need somebody as a President who's going to be enthusiastic, who's going to give us hope, not tell us about hope. Give us hope. "

Cuts in defense spending could hurt another part of the state even more than Hampton Roads. And that is Northern Virginia. We're headed there next.

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