Harold Doucet © Microsoft

Harold Doucet of Port Arthur

Forget party lines, says Harold Doucet. What have you done for me lately?

That's the message Doucet, a retired military officer, has for the presidential candidates, echoing the sentiments of many Americans as the election draws near.

"I can't worry about saving the United States. Port Arthur is where I live, and a lot of the things I support are going to impact where I live," said Doucet, who returned to his Texas hometown on the Gulf Coast after retiring 12 years ago.

And here in Port Arthur, where 13 oil refineries provide nearly all the jobs and two-thirds of the community's tax base, that impact means oil. It means keeping the offshore oil rigs humming, even after a disaster. It means building pipelines, without delay.

Doucet, 62, voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 but won't again. Obama temporarily suspended offshore exploratory drilling in 2010 after an explosion at the Deepwater Horizon platform killed 11 workers and a subsequent gusher beneath the rig released 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

And, earlier this year, Obama refused to approve permits for the northern portion of the Keystone XL Pipeline pending completion of the evaluation of an alternate route, through Nebraska.

"Those decisions impact on Harold Doucet and the city of Port Arthur," said Doucet, who serves on the city council, a largely volunteer position.

"Did you do a lot to help me and where I live? And if you didn't, you don't get another chance," added Doucet. "I don't believe in second chances. If I've got to vote for a different president every year, I'll vote for a different president every year. But I don't continue if I don't see an impact."

At an earlier public hearing in Port Arthur, citizens had expressed overwhelming support for the Keystone Pipeline, slated to carry crude from the Canadian tar sands directly into Port Arthur for processing.

In August, TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, began construction on the southern portion, from Cushing, Okla., to the Texas coast. That work, for which Obama has voiced support, is expected to create more than 4,000 jobs.

Doucet would like to see the U.S. borders strengthened to protect American jobs. There is a large Hispanic population in Port Arthur, and residents routinely express concern that undocumented workers are taking jobs that might otherwise go to U.S. citizens.

"It's not a case of discrimination -- it's a matter of looking at the laws to make sure everyone is operating on a level playing field," said Doucet, who said there is work out there, particularly off-the-books construction work, that may go to illegal immigrants at lower pay rates.

"That's just the facts," he said. "We could try and say it in a way to try not and offend anyone, but when you put the facts down, that's how it is."

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