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In US, Cambodians Leaning Toward McCain

Sen. John McCain, the US presidential candidate for the Republican Party, has found wide support among Cambodians in the US, thanks to his Vietnam War record and the perception that he understands US-Cambodian policy.

In interviews from California to Virginia, US-Cambodians say they will choose McCain over his Democratic competitor, Barack Obama, when the presidential race comes to a close Nov. 4.

Kim Narin, who lives in Long Beach, Calif., said he believed McCain stood by his word.

“He does not just open a book and copy from a book,” he said. “I also belive that McCain is an honest person and has strong experience in the economy, national defense and foreign affairs.”

Hong Sovan Hang, who lives in Minnesota, said he was impressed with McCain’s time as a pilot in the Vietnam War, as well as his knowledge of Cambodian issues.

“I think Sen. John McCain knows Cambodia more, and I hope that he might have a foreign policy that could pay attention to Cambodian issues,” he said. “So I think I will vote for McCain. I also think that McCain has enough experience and is ready to lead the country based on his long-term experience in the Senate.”

The run-up to the presidential election has been a long one, and many voters have had time to change their minds along the way.

Kuch Chanly, who lives in Maryland, said he had weighed many times whether to vote for McCain or Obama. The eight years under President George W. Bush that had weakened the US economy and been an “embarrassment,” he said.

Nuch Voha, who lives in Shanghai, China, said that even from so far away, and with the ability to vote by absentee ballot, he trusted the Republican Party to keep its policies and promises.

Pen Pere, who lives in Lowell, Mass., said McCain deserved to be the US commander-in-chief, thanks to his military experience.

“I think it is suitable for me to vote for McCain because he helps mortgages and small busineses,” Pen Pere said. “It there are no small businesses, the country’s economy cannot improve or progress. If we only help normal people who do not have small businesses, such as welfare people, then the country can’t progress.”

In Fresno, Calif., Sereyvuth Var, a liaison of the Community and Family Engagement Network to school districts in the town, said he supported McCain on his stance on the Iraq war.

“I don’t want the US to bring their troops home like they did to Vietnam and Cambodia,” he said.

Fresno restaurateur Piseth Sam said he was voting for McCain on the economy.

“I don’t like Obama’s policy on tax cuts,” he said.

A retiree and former soldier, Yath Yim, said he would vote for McCain because of his war recorder. McCain was “a commander, and he will help Cambodia,” Yath Yim said.

Not every US-Cambodian, however, supported McCain.

Setha Nhim, who works at a county office for education, said he would vote for Obama.

“He has a good policy on education,” he said, “and he cares about the US more than the war in Iraq.”