Troops Split on Obama Re-election

President Barack Obama

Troops reacted Wednesday morning to President Barack Obama's re-election, expecting the president to maintain the defense strategy he unveiled in January while continuing the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Many servicemembers who spoke to Military.com about their reactions to Tuesday's result said they expected a close election, and one that would maintain the status quo.

President Obama's re-election coupled with the Republicans maintaining control of the House led some troops to expect the same type of gridlock they've seen over the past two years in Washington. Others expressed fear that the battles on Capitol Hill could trigger a $500 billion defense spending cut over the next decade should Congress not reach a deficit reduction settlement that would eliminate sequestration.

Military members have traditionally voted Republican, and early polls showed that trend continued in this election, with most servicemembers supporting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Master Gunnery Sgt. Josh Powell, who has served in the Marine Corps for 20 years, was one such servicemember unhappy with the outcome of the election.

"I'm disappointed," the Mitt Romney supporter said on the morning of Nov. 7 while running errands in Quantico, Va.

Powell blames part of Romney's defeat on how both liberal and conservative media organizations distorted facts during the race.

"I feel like neither side of the media is about putting out facts," said Powell, who added that he believes that the media "squashed" the message of Libertarians and other, less-powerful parties. "There is a populace in this country that is tired of Republicans and is tired of Democrats" and is against big government.

Military and foreign policy issues never played a major role in this election. U.S. troops even said the candidates' stance on Afghanistan didn't affect how they voted. A Military Times poll found that most servicemembers decided on who they would support based on the economy.

Powell said he voted for Romney because he supports cutting taxes for all Americans and believes that America needs to become less energy dependent on Middle Eastern counties.

Air Force Col. Thomas W. Gross said as he bought coffee at the Starbucks on Joint Base Andrews, Md., Wednesday morning that he voted for Obama. He watched Obama's acceptance speech Tuesday night and said he hoped the president would follow up on the promises he made during the campaign.

"I'm thrilled. He is a great man, but he made some comments in his victory speech and he better keep to them," Gross said. "[Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki] says there is no better supporter of the military than President Obama."

Every servicemember that Military.com spoke to said the results of the election would have no bearing on how they do their job or change their commitment to their service.

 "I don't pass my opinion on. No matter who wins, I still have to do my job," said Senior Airman Pierre Audiffed.

Despite his disappointment, Powell said he is a dedicated Marine and will support President Obama the same way he would have supported Romney had he been elected.

"I work for President Obama … just because I didn't vote for him doesn't mean I won't pick up a rifle and enforce the policies the government deems necessary," Powell said.

Some troops said their lasting impressions of the 2012 election were the extraordinarily long lines many Americans had to wait in to vote. Servicemembers had to wait more than two hours in line to submit their ballots.

"I didn't stay up and that was after waiting over two hours to vote. I heard on the radio on the way in," said Air Force Master Sgt. Kristine Farmer.

Others said their absentee ballots didn't arrive in time to submit their vote. U.S. Postal Service officials had  warned that Hurricane Sandy may have delayed the arrival of absentee ballots to some voters, especially those on the East Coast.

"I didn't get a chance to vote; my absentee didn't come in," Audiffed said.

Those who did vote, including those who voted for Romney, didn't express surprise that Obama won. Considering how close the race was throughout the campaign, servicemembers said they expected the country to side with the president.

"I'm not surprised. I think the vote was so divided, people would go with the status quo," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Jacqueline Carlan.

-- Michael Hoffman contributed to this report.

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