The Republican National Convention failed to bring Margot Garant, "a card-carrying Republican," back into the fold.

Garant, an undecided voter who'd shifted from favoring Mitt Romney in June to favoring President Barack Obama by August, had tuned into the RNC to hear whether Romney would outlay policy specifics. But she never got to hear him. Clint Eastwood came on stage first. And once Eastwood started addressing an empty chair (watch it here) as President Barack Obama, Garant tuned out in disgust.

"Turned the channel off and never went back. How they could endorse anyone being disrespectful to the president of the United States is incredulous to me," said Garant, a real-estate lawyer and the mayor of Port Jefferson Village, in Long Island, N.Y.

"I don't think Obama's done a really bad job, people. He hasn't broken any law. He hasn't failed in any one way drastically," she said. "I think he deserves a lot of respect for walking into the worst economy that we've had since the 1920s."

By contrast, she thought the Democratic National Convention elevated the tenor of the election and offered the first substantive policy discussion, particularly when former President Bill Clinton spoke. The facts offered a sobering reminder that the country faces serious issues that take time to repair, she said.

"These are deep, deep, deep issues," she said. "Everyone wants instant gratification. A lot of these problems you can't fix right away."

"It added another notch in my confidence level, in my gut conviction of sticking with Obama," Garant added. "We really need people to get behind the president and work together."

Sticking with Romney

Fellow villager Bobby Casino, a former stockbroker, was equally turned off by Eastwood's performance at the Republican National Convention.

Bobby Casino of Port Jefferson Village © Microsoft

Bobby Casino of Port Jefferson Village

"To go out and bash the president is just weak," he said. "I thought it was very disrespectful and very weak. But that's Hollywood."

But Casino, a Republican already favoring Romney, is sticking with his vote for the Republican candidate.

"Romney's talking about the most important thing right now, which is jobs," he said. "What's more important than jobs?"

He added that the unemployment numbers are actually a lot higher than they appear and that the stock market is being propped up artificially and is not improving as much as the Dow Jones numbers alone suggest.

"You talk to brokers, (and) they're not making the commissions," he said. "Obama's getting a pass right now."

Casino, who said he loves Bill Clinton and that "my ultimate all-time favorite candidate would be his wife, Hillary Clinton . . . I wish she was vice president," said he appreciated Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic convention and is not terribly excited by Romney.

But he didn't vote for Obama in 2008 and won't in 2012. He'd like to believe in the businessperson.

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg "came into the city and fixed everything, because he's a financial guy," Casino said. "Maybe Romney can do the same thing."

'I just don't see a better future with either existing candidate'

And if the party conventions succeeded in cementing some voters already in their camps, they only convinced Port Jefferson resident Barbara Sabatino that there's no one in the race representing her.

"I'm going to write in Ron Paul's name in the vote. That's my only way to protest," said Sabatino, who co-owns and runs the Port Jefferson Army-Navy store.

Barbara Sabatino, Port Jefferson store co-owner © Microsoft

Barbara Sabatino, Port Jefferson store co-owner

"I just don't see a better future with either existing candidate," she explained. "I'm not happy with what Obama has done so far, and with Mitt Romney I just don't have a clue. I haven't seen any plan of what they're going to do."

Sabatino did laugh about the fact that her own business tends to see a slight uptick in sales when Obama appears strong: Survivalists who believe that Obama is going to confiscate guns or that the economy is going to collapse under him tend to load up on Armageddon supplies and weapons.

But her concern about her own financial future is no laughing matter.

More and more, Sabatino, 59, fears that she's going to be on her own in retirement. As it is, she'll need a stable cost of living and a good Medicare program, not tax hikes to pay for the kind of retirement benefits (for government retirees) that she says she won't come close to getting herself.

"They say that there's class warfare, and it's really not class warfare. It's government, tax-based salaries versus non-tax-based salaries," she said. "When you see everything you have disappearing, maybe from inflation or a lost job, then all of a sudden you start looking and saying, 'Hey, how come they have this and I don't have this?'"

When Romney spoke at the Republican convention, Sabatino said she had "a little bit more confidence that he could actually do the job. . . . I don't know what it was that he said but I thought, 'Oh, maybe he's not so bad.'"

But during the DNC, she got upset upon hearing about public programs, envisioning added costs to taxpayers like her.

"I had to leave the room when I heard about all the programs the Democrats were pushing through, and I was just thinking, 'Who's going to pay for that? Who's going to pay for that?'"

Still, she's counting on some of those government programs, as are her neighbors.

When Sabatino learned that Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan has suggested replacing Medicare with $6,000 annual vouchers for individuals to use on private insurance, Sabatino balked. "Are they even aware of how much things cost?" she said.

After talking about the steadily rising cost of her own private health insurance, and how she has had to give up spending on other necessities, Sabatino relayed the story of a woman who rents an apartment above her store and who hadn't taken her medication in three days. The woman had run out of pills -- and had to wait to receive her next income check before getting a refill.

"That's what people are doing," Sabatino said. "There are a lot of people like that."


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