Troops In Iraq Engaged In U.S. Presidential Election

March 4th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Troops In Iraq Engaged In U.S. Presidential Election

March 3, 2008
CNN Newsroom, 10:00 AM
HEIDI COLLINS: U.S. troops serving in Iraq can vote in the primaries and the November election. So, what are their concerns? CNN's Barbara Starr just came back from Iraq where she spoke with troops on the front line.
BARBARA STARR, CNN, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Perhaps no Americans have more at stake in this election than the troops in Iraq. The next president of the United States almost certainly will determine when they come home. On a recent trip to Iraq I spoke to several troops about the political season. Command Sergeant Major Marvin Hill is the senior enlisted soldier in Iraq.
COMMAND SGT. MARVIN HILL, U.S. ARMY: I have never seen in 30 years of service the amount of energy that our troopers are putting in to the election and how they are so in tune with what's going on back home.
STARR: Their worries are the same as many Americans.
HILL: I think they're mostly concerned with the economy and they're concerned with how this war is going to play out.
STARR: Voting may not be easy. Troops can logon to websites to download absentee ballots but they have to get them into the mail in time to be counted. That can be tough in remote areas like this near the Syrian border.
LT. COL. PETER BAUMGARTEN, U.S. MARINE CORPS: We started encouraging the Marines to vote as we were coming out here in October to make sure they could participate in the primary season.
STARR: In Fallujah where hundreds of Marines died during the height of the insurgency, there is now great interest in the campaign.
HM2 OTHEA WILLIAMS, U.S. NAVY MEDICAL CORPSMAN: Watch the news, of course, or at the chow hall and then we have certain rooms that have cable in them so we catch the news there. Of course, we have Internet.
STARR: But the reality is here, the job comes first.
WILLIAMS: I spend more time-out here, doing this than I actually do have time to sit down and watch TV.
COLLINS: Barbara Starr now at the Pentagon this morning. Barbara, I know you were in the region talking to several military officials. What are they saying about the war rhetoric in the U.S. presidential campaign?
STARR: Well, you know, Heidi, on this trip we also went to several as you said, Persian Gulf countries and talked to military officials from those countries. They, too, are watching the election very closely, very carefully, throughout the region. Television, the Internet, all of that really bringing up-to-the-minute information to U.S. troops to the people across the Persian Gulf and of course, across the Arab world.
We found in these other countries, people we spoke to, as you would expect, I think, supporters for Senator Clinton, for Senator Obama, for Senator McCain, for all of them. But the question that we got from so many people in this part of the world is, what takes Americans so long to make a decision? Why do our campaigns last for close to a year? That's something we couldn't quite answer for them. But that was really one of the recurring themes that we heard. Heidi.
COLLINS: Did you tell them it's the media, we start earlier and earlier every election?
STARR: I think they kind of got that feeling. But it was interesting. They're watching that. And you know, it's not the type of government that they have in many parts of the world, so they find it very curious.
COLLINS: All right. CNN's Barbara Starr from the Pentagon this morning. Thanks, Barbara.
STARR: Sure.

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