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America's New War: American Voting in Times of War

Aired September 25, 2001 - 06:36   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Here's a little incentive on Election Day. New Yorkers may not realize it, but when they go to the polls today, they carry on a distinctively American tradition.

CNN's Bruce Morton has more on American voting during times of war.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New Yorkers are still clearing rubble this morning and going to work and doing the things people do, but they are also doing one particularly American thing. They are voting in the middle of a war.

Four Democrats are on the primary ballot; two Republicans, and Mayor Rudy Giuliani, term limited, probably wishes he could run again too.

MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI, NEW YORK: It's a very important decision, and I need time to think about it. I need time to talk to people about it, and I have not had the time to do that.

MORTON: Anyway, he said, New Yorkers should vote.

GIULIANI: My advice to them is to vote and to choose among the candidates that are there.

MORTON: We voted during wars before. In 1864 in the middle of the Civil War, 25 states voted; none from the Confederacy, of course. President Abraham Lincoln, the Republican, won with 55 percent of the vote, beating Democrat George McClellan, a general more famous for his caution than his victories.

Franklin Roosevelt won a fourth term in 1944, of course, as World War II neared its end. He would die without seeing the victory he sought, and Harry Truman would make the big decisions about that.

It's unusual voting in wartime, but we do it. Britain, during World War II, didn't have an election until after the war. One historian wrote that the Soviet Union's Joseph Stalin, who didn't bother with elections, joked to Winston Churchill about fixing the results. No, the voters thanked Churchill and defeated him. Laborer's Clement Atlee was the new prime minister. Anyway, New York is voting, doing what America, in a sense, is all about. The Afghans have never had a chance to learn about voting. The terrorists don't believe in it, preferring to rule through fear. But it has served the United States for more than two centuries. New York, this day, carries on a very American tradition.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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