On the space coast, no candidate is good enough

Former shuttle program workers on Florida's space coast, from left, Lou Hannah, Joe Urich, Holly Petrucci, and Mike Carpenter
CBS News

Nowhere is the economy a bigger issue this election year than in Florida. Nationally, unemployment is eight-and-a-half percent. In Florida, it's nearly ten percent.

The end of the space shuttle program alone cost more than 7,000 jobs. With the primary coming on Tuesday, CBS News anchor Scott Pelley spoke to former shuttle workers.

Lou Hannah, Holly Petrucci, Mike Carpenter and Joe Urich knew that the shuttle was being retired. And, they expected to go to work on another space program called "Constellation."

Special Section: Campaign 2012

PELLEY: Do all of you expect to vote in the primary?

PETRUCCI: Absolutely.

PELLEY: The new manned space program rocket was supposed to be called "Constellation," and now you guys call it?

GROUP: Cancellation.

Constellation was shelved so now there is no American manned spacecraft.

PELLEY: When you hear the politicians talk, what do you hear?

CARPENTER: Lies.

URICH: Lotta hot air.

PELLEY: Mike, why do you say so?

CARPENTER: Well, we were lied to when Obama came through. (He) gave us a lotta hope and supposedly a lotta change. Well, I've got change in my pocket, but the hope is gone.

Six months after the last shuttle, around Brevard County, there are empty storefronts and abandoned houses. You can count Lou Hannah among the angry voters. He helped prepare the first shuttle for launch in 1981, and he worked on the last one in July. For financial security he had bought two houses to rent. He filed for bankruptcy last month.

HANNAH: Well, I was laid off on July the 22nd. Eight days later, a tenant moved outta one of my houses. I think it was three days later the tenant moved out of the other house. And all of a sudden I got three mortgages to make on, you know, no paycheck. So, I had no choice.

PELLEY: You think the politicians who are running for president have a good understanding of what your concerns and what your needs are?

CARPENTER: No.

PETRUCCI: No.

CARPENTER: They're disconnected from everything. They have no clue.

One reason they feel disconnected is that the leading political candidates are millionaires, and they don't feel great about the political advertising.

HANNAH: Garbage.

PETRUCCI: You don't listen to 'em anymore.

URICH: Yeah. Most of the time I don't even keep it you know, it's just noise in the background.

HANNAH: It's a waste of money that they spend on advertising basically.

PELLEY: What do you think when the Congress doesn't seem able to get legislation passed, doesn't seem to be able to make decisions about things that are critical to the folks in this country?

HANNAH: I think something's broken. It's all about mudslinging and deal-making. Let's get past that.

  • Scott Pelley

    Correspondent, "60 Minutes"