Donald Trump’s supporters are pissed off, fiercely loyal, and as surprising as the candidate himself.
For almost five months, thousands of voters across the country — many of them disenchanted with the political establishment, fearful that their country is under attack, and desperate to find inspiration in the 2016 campaign — have fueled the Trump phenomenon.
As the billionaire business mogul has broken the conventional rules of politics time and time again this year, his supporters have remained steadfast and loyal, showing remarkable resistance to the stream of criticism that skeptics have thrown Trump’s way. And their numbers are growing; Trump was at 36% among Republican leaning voters in a CNN poll this month — the broadest support yet for the GOP frontrunner. Now, many are digging in their heels as the candidate fights off intense backlash from his latest and most controversial comments yet about banning all Muslims from entering the United States.
Citing the “Republican Party’s impotence” and marveling at Trump’s “unvarnished” persona, nine Trump supporters shed light on what’s behind their allegiance to Trump in an extended interview on “New Day” with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota Thursday.
The direction of the Republican Party hinges on Trump’s presidential campaign — and his supporters. Thursday’s interview is just one slice of CNN’s continued reporting on the the American voters that are propelling Trump’s candidacy.
Here are a few of the highlights:
“My president comes on TV and he lies to me.”
Susan Demelus of New Hampshire, a state representative who has previously said she doesn’t believe President Barack Obama was born in the United States, didn’t mince words when it came to other politicians. Many of them lie straight to her face, she said. And her fellow Trump supporters agreed, defending their candidate’s claims that thousands of people celebrated on 9/11 in New Jersey. Paul DiBartolo of New York said that what Trump and his supporters care about are the people directly affected by the terror attacks, and that he “could care less about a few Muslims or a few people that are upset.”
“Immigration’s not a right, it’s a privilege.”
Trump unleashed a fresh wave of controversy when he called for a travel ban on Muslims, and the panel of his supporters backed him on it.
“If we wanted, as a nation, we could keep everybody out of the country,” William Baer said. So why just Muslims? Josh Youssef from New Hampshire said it seems that a majority of the recent terror activities have been perpetrated by Muslims, and Gerald DeLemus from New Hampshire said he believes that the teachings of the Quran conflict with the United States Constitution.
However, John Hikel from New Hampshire said while he doesn’t think Trump’s proposal is unreasonable, he is uncomfortable with painting with a broad brush, and the group discussed their positive experiences with Muslims.
“Had we had a couple of people that could legally carry a handgun in that room, maybe we wouldn’t have seen that issue at all.”
The gun control debate ignites each time there’s a mass shooting, and Trump has been outspoken on the issue. His supporters say they want to keep their guns: “Let’s take away all the guns from the citizens, what happens? Only the criminals now have guns,” said Paula Yoel Johnson from New Hampshire.
So what’s the answer to gun violence? “Educating people that guns aren’t bad,” Hikel said. “Guns aren’t dangerous. They are if they were in the hands of someone who’s not qualified to have them.”
“Donald Trump represents the American party.”
Trump told CNN’s Don Lemon that an Independent run isn’t out of the question yet. He and his supporters want more respect from the Republican establishment. “For them to go out and back stab him like this, you know what? I’m done with the Republican party,” Johnson said. She will go with him if he runs as a third-party candidate, and says she’ll bring her people with her.
“I feel a lot safer knowing that Mr. Trump will be our president.”
The bottom line? Trump supporters trust the billionaire. DiBartolo said he’s “100% comfortable” with Trump’s relationship with “the truth,” and Susan Demelus echoed his sentiments: “I don’t believe any one of (the politicians). Not one. I believe Donald.”