By Emma Dion and Karissa Waddick
LONDONDERRY, N.H. – Steve Young, a longtime New Hampshire resident, says he values his ability to vote in the first-in-the-nation primary after spending years of his life in Washington surrounded by those who couldn’t exercise a similar right.
“Taxation without representation: I know all about it,” Young said. “I’ve always voted in New Hampshire. Being a diplomat, you can retain your residency in your home state. You waste your vote in DC; it’s a shame.”
Young was born at Walter Reed Medical Center and served as a foreign-diplomat for much of his life, traveling to Beijing, Hong Kong and Moscow, among other cities.
The retiree has spent the past few weeks meeting each candidate but still has yet to make a final decision on who he’ll vote for when he casts his ballot on Tuesday. He attended the Pete Buttigieg Town Hall at Londonderry Middle School in the hopes of finding some clarity.
“I’m kind of torn between this guy, Biden and Warren for my vote,” Young said. “So this will help me focus a little bit. I may go into the booth and make up my mind then.”
Young is not alone. Thirty percent of New Hampshire residents are still weighing their options, with less than 48 hours to go, according to a CNN/University of New Hampshire poll.
Young remained just as conflicted after hearing from the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor, who is drawing big crowds in and around Manchester. He admits he will have to think hard about voting for Buttigieg but wants to sit back and consider his options.
“I wish I could take a little bit of Joe Biden’s experience and meld it with this guy’s enthusiasm,” he said. “But in fact … Joe’s more than twice as old as him.”
Foreign-affairs knowledge could make or break the former diplomat’s choice. Young is looking to hear more from presidential hopefuls about the trade war with China and dictator relationships.
He wants a leader who can go head-to-head with rival world leaders, not get cozy with them.
“Bernie, he’s too socialist for me. I’ve worked in places with socialism. It doesn’t work. You know?” he said. “I don’t wanna see that here.”
Overall, Young said he was impressed by Buttigieg’s ability to smooth talk the Londonderry crowd. He’s intrigued by the 38-year-old’s momentum coming out of Iowa.
Other event attendees expressed similar feelings. Though Buttigieg typically doesn’t do well with young voters, Gia Komst, an 18-year-old Londonderry High School senior says many of her peers support him. They’re intrigued by his ability to relate to New Hampshire residents.
“He makes it feel like you’re the most important one in the room,” she said.
Young’s decision during the general election in November will be easier. “Anybody but Trump,” he said, adding that if Buttigieg clinches the presidency, the young president may need to do some redecorating in the White House.
“He’d have his own house if he moved to Washington,” he said. “But he’d have to fumigate it first.”