San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Race for the White House Grips Ticos, Expats

As the U.S. presidential candidates hunker down for the homestretch, neck-andneck in the polls, expats and Costa Ricans alike are tuning in.

An informal survey of passersby on Avenida Central in downtown San José this week suggests that if the November elections were held here (and Ticos could vote), Democratic candidate Barack Obama would win in a landslide.

Still, Republican nominee John McCain has a small following.

Here’s what some of the people are saying:

Georgiana Campos, 56, a retired kindergarten teacher living in Moravia, northeast of San José, supports Obama.

“He seems very approachable – like one of the common folk. And he’s an idealist. He wants to see a change. I’d like to see a president with African ancestry. I think he would help immigrants, or at least understand their situation. And his family is adorable.”

Nancy Vinckier, 54, a retired county planner, on vacation from California, supports Obama.

“The Republicans have been really bad for the United States. We need to repair the damage they’ve done to the economy, the environment and to our standing in the world.”

Randall Oquendo, 60, business adviser from Rohrmoser, a western San José neighborhood, supports McCain.

“He follows the basic principle of country first. He demonstrated that when he was a prisoner of war for five years (in Vietnam). He is 100 percent patriotic. I think he can overcome the poor image that the Republicans have right now.”

Vilma Láscarez, 57, a catalog saleswoman from Aserrí, a mountain town south of San José, supports Obama.

“There has been a wall (between our countries), and not just a physical one on the border with Mexico. It’s so hard to get a visa to the U.S., but Costa Rica doesn’t deny entry to North Americans who want to come.”

Steve Wall, 51, a financial trainer from the U.S. state of Washington, in Costa Rica to train employees at Intel, supports McCain. “I think (vice presidential candidate) Sarah Palin was a very interesting choice. She is popular and smart, but she’s very inexperienced. It would worry me if McCain were to die, and she were to take office.”

Alison Forder, 51, an English teacher from New Zealand here on vacation, supports Obama.

“It’s time for something new. It’s time for America to be a little more part of the world, instead of thinking they are in control of the world. I hope (Obama) can make some changes.

I hope the system doesn’t stop him.”n



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