War Casts Shadow In 'Swingtown'

CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod has the latest in a series of election-year reports from Allentown, Pa., a city that's a microcosm of America in most every way – including how it votes in presidential elections.

In Bethlehem, Pa., Marine Cpl. Randy Glass is getting therapy, one valve at a time, as he works at his job as an auto mechanic. In the initial invasion of Iraq, Randy took a grenade in the leg -- nearly blowing it off.

Asked what it looks like, Glass says "like Freddie Krueger's face."

Eighteen guys he knew were killed.


Why Swingtown?: CBS News' Eric Salzman on how Allentown, Pa., serves as a mirror on American politics.
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"I'm tired of seeing my brothers die," Glass says. But he still supports President Bush.

"The last few weeks it seems like everything has gone to hell over there," Glass says.

So why doesn't he blame the commander in chief?

"I blame the commander in chief of every Iraqi," he says. "Not the commander in chief of the Americans."

Randy Glass isn't alone when it comes to blame. In the last month, here in the Lehigh Valley, support for the war has plummeted, but support for the president has not.

Chris Borick is a professor at Allentown's Muhlenberg college. His latest survey showed support for the war down 10 points in the last three months. During the same time, the president's favorability rating didn't budge from 50 percent.

"At the end of the day, personality may rule the issues in terms of how people are making their decisions come November," said Borick.

If anyone has a reason to want it over, it's Jodi Crawford, whose National Guardsman husband isn't set to come for another year. And a member of his platoon was just killed in action.

"I'm hoping one day that I'll turn on the TV and somebody will say it's all over and they're coming home," Crawford says.

But her faith isn't wavering.

"I would vote for Bush," she says. "Because he's a Christian."

Sitting presidents can usually count on taking a hit when a war turns unpopular. But here there seems to be an exception working to this rule.

"All of a sudden it's in the forefront again and I think that's scary," says restaurateur Louis Bellitieri, a restaurateur who's critical of the war and blames the president for it.

"That's the biggest fear - another Vietnam," he says. "We'll just stay there forever."

There are just as many like Corporal Glass who are concerned.

"Yeah, around here the last couple of weeks, people are just tired of seeing people die."

But not tired enough to change their votes.
  • Joel Roberts

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