“I’m voting for Bush. I’ve always been a Republican and pretty much agree with 95 percent of what he says. I think [Kerry’s] fighting in Vietnam and then going against it is wrong, especially with a war on now.”

—Mario, of Glendale, waiting in line for ex–Laker coach Phil Jackson’s book signing at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena

“I wish I knew who I was going to vote for, but I’m leaning more toward Bush than Kerry. This is the hardest election to decide on. I’m fully up on this one and keep educating myself — I watched all the debates and read Drudge.com. I voted for Gore in 2000 — and he won! This election has been a real eye opener for me — the war in Iraq has made me realize how much choice we have in this country, how we can express ourselves, but they don’t have that freedom in Iraq.”

—Jennifer, Temple City, at Vroman’s

“I’m voting for Kerry because of Bush’s policies. Like the No Child Left Behind. That’s Orwellian, doublespeak. He’s trading off on the funding, he’s saying no kid will be left behind, but yet he is not funding it!”

—Rafael, 32-year-old South-Central schoolteacher

“This election is a fraud — that’s how I feel — when you have two wealthy men locked in as the choices, like two different sides of the same coin. Who will I vote for? I can’t vote for John Kerry. I can’t vote for George Bush either. People think he’s a buffoon, but he’s really dangerous. The outcome of this election may be the start of people waking up, but it will be worse before it gets better.”

—Jacqueline, 57, insurance worker from Atwater Village, shopping at Hollywood Farmers Market

“I’m supporting John Kerry because of his stance on right-to-life issues, a woman’s right to choose and stem-cell research. Those are probably the biggest issues for me. I trust the electoral process, but I worry now about the precedent set by the 2000 election for litigation and all the talk that goes on about both sides already having teams of litigators in each state to contest a possible close election. That worries me. I think the whole voting process [in 2000] was subjugated by the legal process, was surrendered to the Supreme Court of the United States, which was not something that was ever intended. I don’t necessarily think it was a conspiracy, but I don’t believe the election in Florida was on the up-and-up, the whole issue of scores and scores of voters being purged from the rolls. There’s clearly something very wrong.”

—Michael, 34, a chef who lives in Mount Washington and is the father of kids aged 6 and 2, at Hollywood Farmers Market

“George Bush led us to war against a country that was not doing any harm to us, period. John Kerry is not a weak leader. He fought in the war. He’s been a senator for a long time and supported many positive social issues. Americans need to open their minds and see what’s going on.”

—Violet, 52, an elementary school teacher from Palm Springs, at Hollywood Farmers Market

“I support the American Independent Party, mainly because they’re the strongest on individual freedom and national security. And generally on issues they take the conservative/libertarian position. I’d have to check who their candidate is. They’re the best in terms of limited government and lower taxes. As I see it, I can’t see why everyone would not be in favor of limited government and lower taxes, because we’re the ones that earn the money. Why would anyone want to give his hard-earned money to a bureaucrat in Washington to senselessly squander on all these social-welfare experiments that seem to be so wasteful, inefficient, corrupt and counterproductive? The only way to describe John Kerry is a backstabbing turncoat. Bush is far superior to Kerry on all accounts, but he hasn’t gone nearly far enough. We need to be much more serious about this war on terrorism, starting with defending our borders. We need to take the war to the enemy, to the anti-American rogue nations.”

—Brian, 59, business consultant from Hollywood, at Hollywood Farmers Market

“There was no reason to go into Iraq. Hussein was not a threat to the security of the U.S. He could have been taken care of in different ways. I don’t think he had anything to do with 9/11. Bush politicized 9/11 for his own political reasons. Oil figures into these situations. I think it was stupid to believe that we could implant democracy in the middle of the Arab world. From what I know of democracy, it is like love — it is not something you can shove down someone’s throat. It has to come from within. The world respects Americans, but I don’t think they respect Bush’s policy. However, I think it can be reversed with Kerry. He is the only option we have. I think it is common knowledge that many people don’t like changing governments in the middle of a war, and that is why Bush has a following. Kerry doesn’t see the world in black and white like Bush does. He is capable of admitting a mistake and correcting it, and I don’t think Bush is capable of doing that.”

—Tino, Korean War veteran, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, bar manager at VFW Montebello Post No. 2317

“The economy is bad. Why is fuel so high? It has doubled in the last few years. Bush is just trying to make money for himself. I feel it is a frivolous war. Our people are still getting killed. Why should our people be in there? It is like the Vietnam War all over again. Nothing has come of it. Have they found any weapons of mass destruction? His people gave him the wrong information. He relies on his people and they are always wrong. Kerry looks like he is a sincere person. We need a change and he is a Democrat. It was a frivolous war and he will try to correct it.”

—Ray, 59, trucker who lives in Montebello

“It didn’t used to be like this around here. It used to be safe. You know why? Because we used to be a society with rules. People knew they had to behave or they were gonna get it. You know what I think the problem is? All these illegals who come here, you know, and they think they can do anything they want. All these illegals, and all these hippies — you know, like that guy who’s running for president. That guy with the Purple Heart he got from just a scratch. My brother died over there, in Vietnam, and this guy gets just a scratch on his arm and he thinks he deserves a Purple Heart! He’s a pimp, that’s what he is. He’s had three wives. They don’t talk about the first one, they only talk about the ones he was legally married to — but he’s on his third wife! He’s a pimp, that’s what he is, been a pimp all his life. He’s just been a pimp, living off all his rich wives. You think I’d vote for that guy? Not on your life, I wouldn’t. George Bush? I don’t care about him, either. He’s no good. But he’s better than that pimp.”

—Elderly woman coming out of the post office behind the Hollywood Highland mall

“As an artist, I feel compelled to make art against the powers that would try to suppress it. I am doing everything I can to get Kerry elected because that might avert certain doom. But the real work starts the day of the inauguration, no matter who gets into office.”

—EMEK, artist

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