Gauging the Arab-American vote

The World

This year Arab-American organizations haven’t formally endorsed a candidate. This Arab-American community leader says he’s gotten burned before on endorsing a candidate and feels like it’s tough to gauge the candidates before they get into office anyway. On the issues he says Obama resonates more with Arab-Americans, but he also says people feel snubbed by Obama. Obama has been to churches and synagogues but he hasn’t been to a mosque, and campaign organizers have even stopped women wearing headscarves from sitting behind Obama. Obama personally apologized to those women later, but this has done little to take away the offense caused by the mix up. This leader of one of the nation’s largest Islamic congregations understands the tension for Obama. He understands why Obama has shied away from people like him. Throughout the campaign, rumors have circulated that Obama is a Muslim. The Muslim leader understands why Obama has to be clear in denying that he is a Muslim, but says he could be more sensitive about those denials. Obama met privately with the Muslim leader in May. Out on the streets, nobody cared that Obama hadn’t been to a mosque. These Iraqi Shiites refugees at a barber shop care deeply about the war in Iraq and they think the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a good thing. They all say they’re voting for Obama because they now want the U.S. out of Iraq. At this Detroit suburb, it’s a different world, a more sophisticated world. This entrepreneur is a Republican, as most are here, and support lower taxes and think McCain is the only man to be in charge for Iraq. Not all here support McCain who recently suspended his campaign in Michigan. This voter isn’t enthused about either McCain or Obama but she believes Obama offers a small glimmer of hope. At the end of the day though, discussions like these are becoming increasingly academic for Iraqi-American voters. These voters say they’re like everyone else, and their main concern is the economy.

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