Flip them the bird? Energized Trump supporters roll with it in Washington | KUOW News and Information

Flip them the bird? Energized Trump supporters roll with it in Washington

May 5, 2016

Debbi LerMond calls it "bird-watching" – a reference to some of the hand signals she gets from drivers who pass by as she waves signs for Donald Trump near her home in Duvall, Washington.

But there's satisfaction -- and relief -- for LerMond and fellow Trump supporters in knowing that their candidate is the apparent Republican nominee, now that his remaining competitors have dropped out.

They say Trump's ideas are often misunderstood, something that LerMond says she tries to correct as a volunteer with the campaign’s phone-banking efforts.

She likes to think she played a small part in his victory in the Indiana primary this week, by chatting with several undecided voters there.

She and her husband also campaign on their home turf – they’ve been waving Trump signs at a nearby highway intersection. And despite those hand signals ...

“I believe Trump’s going to win, that’s why I’m calling [voters in] Washington, doing everything I can," she said.

LerMond says she’s relieved that Ted Cruz and John Kasich have dropped out, but she won’t feel completely confident until Trump has all the delegates he needs to get the party nomination. 

She still worries that the Republican convention might somehow wind up being contested.

"If they do that, then I believe Cruz and Kasich will step back in again – they just suspended their campaigns,” she emphasized.

As to what she wants to see if Trump is elected, her answer is quick and specific: “Build the wall. Build the wall.”

That's the wall Trump has proposed between the United States and Mexico. But LerMond says for her, that wall is more about holding in American jobs lost because of trade agreements or environmental rules.

“All these jobs that we’ve seen go to other places, outsourced to Mexico or China or places like that – plants closing up,” she said.

Eric Cowley is another Trump supporter. He does overseas ministry in Africa and elsewhere, but lives in the Snoqualmie Valley. He’s helped build a pro-Trump group called the National Diversity Coalition, and he says he’s trying to correct a misperception that Trump and his policies are racist.

“He’s got people all around him of many, many races," Cowley said.

About the wall, Cowley says Trump was only saying that "we just need to stop the illegal situation going on. He’s not against anything that’s legal. And he’s right in saying it.”

Cowley ran as a Trump delegate at his local legislative district convention, and was dismayed to be shut out by Cruz supporters that day. He says he’s never been politically active before. But in April, the Trump diversity coalition that Cowley formed was honored at an event in New York. He even got to meet the candidate.

“It was a media frenzy!" Cowley said. "But it was great, got to meet Mr. Trump. He’s everything you’d think, or I should say he’s everything you would see on television. He’s genuine, he’s real, he’s a man of authority, walks in authority."

Even in the heart of supposedly liberal Seattle, you'll find Trump supporters echoing his views on immigration.

One of them is Keian Dayani, who works as a pharmacist in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. . 

“It’s not about keeping people out, it’s not about not liking a certain group of people – not liking Mexicans, not liking Muslims," Dayani said. "It’s about creating a foreign policy that benefits the people already here.”

Some more recently than others.

Dayani is the son of a Muslim immigrant who converted to Christianity. Dayani says his family’s experience in Iran shaped their support for Trump.

“I’m a gay Republican, I’m also of Persian descent, my dad is Iranian," he said. "And my family really likes Donald Trump and what he stands for. And the reason for that is, we understand the risks that radical Islam poses to our country because we’ve had to experience that ourselves.”

He calls Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslim immigration “a smart move in uncertain times.”

Dayani says that despite the stereotype of Seattle politics, he finds a fair number of covert Trump supporters. Dayani says he’s glad Cruz is out of the race, particularly in terms of his stance opposing gay marriage.

“Ted Cruz is incredibly homophobic when it comes to his stances on gays and gay marriage," Dayani said. "We see with Donald Trump that he is open to people living their own lives.”