As Donald Trump's first 100 days as president came to an end in April, KUOW gathered Trump supporters and opponents together for an "Ask a Trump Supporter" event in Bellevue. The goal was to start a dialog across the political divide — and for deep blue Seattleites to understand what led some to vote for Trump.
Trump supporters answered questions from Trump opponents in six-minute interviews. Here are excerpts from those conversations.
Olga, a Christian Trump voter, told Jennifer that Trump was her 17th choice in the primaries (meaning dead last) — but she didn’t want to vote for Hillary Clinton. Jennifer asked her what role she thinks religion should play in government.
Jennifer: Do you want to see more, like, role of religion or Christianity in the rule of the country?
Olga: Oh, not necessarily. I just think that Christian values aren’t respected anymore. I think that if we all lived our lives and held to our Christian values, we would have a much better society.
Jennifer: Values such as?
Olga: Working, supporting yourself, being responsible for yourself, not living off the system, not being dependent on government assistance. I know it’s necessary and some people, you know — it’s there for a reason. But I think it’s grossly abused.
Jennifer: I’m not Christian, but I like the value of charity. And I wish that people could be more — have more charity in general.
Olga: Yeah. And Christians are very charitable.
Later in their conversation, Olga said she believes government assistance is a key motivator for immigration.
Olga: I don’t like that people come over here expecting to live off the system. And I experienced a lot of that living in Texas.
I worked at a hospital there where women would go into labor from across the border, and they would hang out in the parking lot until they were crowning because if they came into the emergency room too soon, they would be put in an ambulance and sent back across the border. So they would sit out in the parking lot and labor and wait, because if they waited long enough, their child was born here, and they had access to welfare, food stamps, the whole nine yards.
And that to me is just wrong.
Jason asked Hossein, who voted for Trump, if he thinks the president is trustworthy.
Jason: Do you trust Donald Trump?
Hossein: You know, he is running for office to make America a better place. He’s not running to gain fame. He’s not running to make money. So, what’s in it for him? There’s nothing more than serving this country. So, for that reason -- yes, I do. In fact he’s going to fall behind in his own business doing this.
I think he’s going to use that ingenuity, that vision, that charisma that he’s gained running a business, running a financial empire. So let’s hire him — and we already did — let’s put him to work to make America great again.”
Trump-supporter Casey answered questions from Natasha. He said the Republican Party is divided — primarily on religion.
Natasha: What are the non-negotiables to you?
Casey: Those issues revolve around large government. A government that is overregulating.
I watched the government, from within the healthcare system, basically destroy a healthcare system to put in a system that benefits 20 million people or so — in a country of 323 million people or so. That really has hurt the middle class massively.
My two big points are healthcare and education. So I’m pro women’s rights. I’m pro religious or theological freedom. So, whatever you want to believe, whatever you want to do in your personal life, I am completely cool with that. And there's actually a large section — a rather large majority of Republicans — who are that way.
Scout ask Trump-supporter Connie what she thinks of the president’s attitude about women.
Scout: Do you think that Donald Trump is a sexist? Or do you think that’s something that media has portrayed him as?
Connie: I believe the media has been pumping that up. I was in New York from ‘74 to ‘86, and I worked in the construction trades — administrative. But he was just, he sold more newspapers because he had the good life, he was doing all these things, what have you.
But I do believe just the way he’s taken care of — like, the whole Miss Universe thing. And she’s come out and said, ‘Wait a minute, everyone’s taken this out of context. He actually helped me by pointing out that I’m not going to succeed in what I want to do. And he helped me try to make myself a success.’ He has a lot of women who work for him. All of these things.
He’s married — I mean, two out of three of his wives are fairly classy. I’m not sure about Marla Maples, but their daughter was surprisingly very well spoken. She’s obviously done something with her education. She’s no dummy. I think that, you know, he likes to surround himself with neat women.
Erika talked with Bob, a lobbyist from Olympia and Trump supporter, about immigration and the president’s ban on refugees.
Erika: How did you react to Trump’s travel ban on refugees who had already been screened for resettlement in the United States?
Bob: I was actually just talking to my son about that this morning. Specifically micro-wise, that’s very disturbing. On a macro level — a larger level — I think it’s the right thing to do. For the last eight years or more, this country has been a mess in terms of immigration. And a lot of debate going on, a lot of people coming in.
Erika: I mean refugee resettlement, not immigrant.
Bob: Well, I think it’s all mixed together. Because those refugees are coming and they end up staying in the United States, right?
Erika: Refugees are forced to flee violent conflicts in their native land, so I was just curious when he put the ban out, these were refugees who had gone through the screening process, if you had any sort of gut reaction to that.
Bob: Gut reaction is yes, it’s disappointing. But I think it is connected to the immigration issue. And we need to be concerned about people coming in unfettered, uncontrolled into our country.
Karen (a Trump supporter from rural Washington) talked with Cindy about whether Trump should run the country like a business. Karen said she liked everything about the president’s first months in office.
Cindy: Is there one thing in particular that you really like that he did?
Karen: I really like that he met with a lot of CEOs in his first couple weeks in office, and got their input about what to do, and to bring back the pride of made in America.
Cindy: Do you think that the goals of a large corporation and the goals of the government are similar?
Cindy: Do you think you can apply all of the skills that a CEO would know to a government-type of position, or do you think there are additional considerations you have to learn about?
Karen: If businesses ran their businesses like the government does, nobody would be in business, because you can’t go out and print money — you have to follow a budget. The first thing is getting a balanced budget that makes sense, and we’re, what, at $20 trillion or whatever it is right now? It’s ridiculous. We’re giving away more money, no one’s paying it back, and taking away money where things need to be spent and giving money where it’s really a waste of time.
Produced for the web by Amy Rolph.