CNN Finds 'Lifelong Republicans' Who Want Universal Health Care, Voting Dem

On CNN Sunday, correspondent Al Velshi reported in by phone from Texas with his story of "lifelong Republicans" who are planning to vote Democratic this time because of health care. Velshi: "They are retired, they've been lifelong Republicans who are actually looking to change over. They're probably going to vote Democrat this time around." (Transcript follows)

CNN then played a video clip of Velshi's earlier discussion with three Texas residents, whom he had visited initially because they live in oil country and benefit from high oil prices, but he found that "their biggest concern was health care." Small business owner Kris Portmann complained about insurance companies and expressed his belief that universal health care would have to be an improvement: "As soon as you have something, there's a policy, there's a reason on why it doesn't cover it. And that's why, never before maybe have thought of universal health care, but if everybody's covered, and everybody's sharing the same, you know, how everything's spread out, it's got to work. I mean, it works other places. It works other countries. I mean, not maybe 100 percent, but it doesn't work 100 percent here, either."

Below is a complete transcript of the report from the March 2 CNN Sunday at 9:03 a.m.:

T.J. HOLMES: So, of course, there's been a lot of the candidates saying stuff to the voters. Well, what are the voters really wanting to say to the candidates? Of course, as we mentioned, we got our best political team on television all over the map, and one guy who has been all over the map literally, our Ali Velshi. He's been traveling throughout the country, and, lately, in Texas, aboard CNN Election Express. He joins us now on the phone this morning from Green, Texas. What are they talking about down there, Ali?

ALI VELSHI, by phone: Good morning, T.J. You know, the funny thing is, I went to this area in central Texas because I wanted to talk to people about oil. These are the people who might be on the other side of the oil question -- in other words, making money off of the high price of oil and gas. And I actually ran into two couples -- they are retired, they've been lifelong Republicans who are actually looking to change over. They're probably going to vote Democrat this time around. And they actually had some involvement in oil. They have a piece of land on which there are oil wells. So they get those royalty checks. Here's the thing: Their biggest concern was health care. Here's what they told me:

MOLLY ENGLISH, Retiree: That's all we talk about because we're all having trouble getting health care coverage, or our coverage is a, you know, it's pitiful.

PEGGY PORTMANN, Small business owner: It's not affordable, but not only is it not affordable. There is affordable out there, and we get turned down for the most ridiculous reasons.

KRIS PORTMANN, Small business owner: No, the insurance covers everything that you don't have.

PEGGY PORTMANN: That's right.

KRIS PORTMANN: Okay, as soon as you have something, there's a policy, there's a reason on why it doesn't cover it. And that's why, never before maybe have thought of universal health care, but if everybody's covered, and everybody's sharing the same, you know, how everything's spread out, it's got to work. I mean, it works other places. It works other countries. I mean, not maybe 100 percent, but it doesn't work 100 percent here, either.

VELSHI, back live by phone: That's kind of interesting hearing lifelong conservatives and Republicans talk about the possibility of universal health care, but that issue is playing very big here in Texas, particularly amongst Democrats. Health care is the second biggest issue around here. So number one is the economy, and, amongst that, inflation and oil prices and gas prices, but we are hearing and have heard a lot this past week about health care. We're wheels up on the bus, and we're headed to some place else where we're going to talk to Texans about what's concerning them about this election and the issues, so we'll be back with you later on today to tell you a bit more about that.