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Local voters voice concerns heading into Iowa Caucuses


As the nation looks forward to the start of the primary season and the Iowa Caucuses one week from today we’ve heard from NPR’s Mara Liasson this morning taking the pulse of the American electorate. What is the voter mood here in West Michigan?

WGVU caught up with some Republicans and Democrats at a Grand Rapids coffee shop to find out.

The Bitter End is a popular Westside Grand Rapids coffee house.

It’s eclectic, rich dark wood walls with an array of framed paintings and photos, a burgundy tin ceiling, brass coat hangers at every table.

And the clientele seated here span the political spectrum.

“I’m a Republican but I don’t feel comfortable with any of the candidates today.”

That’s Ike. He’s most concerned with the federal government’s $2.1 trillion worth of debt.

“We’re like a, pardon the expression, like a drunken sailor on a spree and it’s now time to pay that debt off. And when we pay that debt off that means we’re going to have to maybe curtail some of luxurious living that we’ve enjoyed over the last 50 or 60 years.”

Ike is also concerned about trade imbalance and, as a Republican -

“Compromise is a critical element of governing. If you can’t compromise we’re in trouble.”

Just a few seats from Ike, is left-leaning Katie Booms, a 29-year old originally from Harbor Beach.

“People talk about the anger behind this election but I think behind the anger is fear. On the one side you have people who are feeling like the common man is getting crushed…actually I think both parties are afraid the common man is getting crushed, they’re just blaming different people for it.”

Booms says Republicans blame outside forces focusing on immigration as an example. And she, like Ike, takes issue with a lack of political compromise.

“Well, there’s a lot of unrest in the Middle East.”

Let us not forget about foreign policy and homeland security.

“I’m Paul Childress from Grand Rapids, I’m turning 20 next week…I probably go more Democratic.”

“The Paris tragedy that was horrible but you know, there are so many displaced people out there and if we could help that would be awesome, but it’s such a slippery slope because of the situation.”

Finally, we meet Haley Moore. She’s 20 and from Grand Rapids, too.

“I identify with the Republican party. The frustrating thing I think for both Democrats and Republicans is the game that has us at a standstill now because there is a divide in Democratic and Republican power between the House and Senate and then the executive branch and judicial branch and I think all that just keeps the country moving forward in an effective way. I’m really frustrated with the power being in the hands of the people with the money.”

The voters we spoke with today seek a candidate of principles and compromise - one standing with the people, and not political interests.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.