Bringing The World Home To You

© 2021 WUNC North Carolina Public Radio
120 Friday Center Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
919.445.9150 | 800.962.9862
91.5 Chapel Hill 88.9 Manteo 90.9 Rocky Mount 91.1 Welcome 91.9 Fayetteville 90.5 Buxton
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Trump Voters Respond To Charlottesville

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

For many inside and outside the Republican Party, this is the crisis presidency, with the Trump administration lurching from one upheaval to another. Many Trump voters, however, are sticking with their guy. We called up a few of them to see how they were feeling, especially with the departure of the president's controversial chief strategist Steve Bannon. Linda Caudill of Cincinnati, Ohio, said she's looking forward to seeing Bannon unbound.

LINDA CAUDILL: There's fake news. I want to see him take on some of that. I'd like to see him take on some of the individuals who are trying to dismantle the Trump presidency.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We also spoke with Kevin Eisbrenner of Livonia, Mich., and Will Estrada of Lovettsville, Va. Neither of them were ruffled by Bannon's exit, either. Estrada is more concerned with outside forces.

WILL ESTRADA: The amount of opposition from the media, amount of the whole, you know, #resist movement that we're seeing from antifa and others on the far left of the Democratic Party and then the amount of obstruction and opposition that we're having from Democrat elected officials. So there are pressures that this White House has that many other administrations have not had.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'd like to get Kevin, though - your thoughts. You know, we heard there from Will that, in his view, the president's getting a lot of obstruction from the Democratic Party and people on the left. But we've heard a lot of criticism this week from within his own party. You know, we heard Senator Corker basically state that he felt that, possibly, the president was unfit for office.

KEVIN EISBRENNER: You know, you can bandy words about, like, the deep state - things of that nature. I think there's a lot of dye-in-the-wool politicians that just are not happy when an outsider's in. As far as being fit to be president, no, I think he's fit. I just don't think that he's fitting their mold.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Linda, Bannon told the Weekly Standard that the Trump presidency that we fought for and won is over. Do you think it's over? I mean, he seems to be representing a certain wing that seems to feel that, actually, what the president ran on is not something that the president is actually doing while in office.

CAUDILL: Well, I would disagree. I think that there are a number of conservative things that Trump has accomplished since he's been there. There are still some things that have to be done. But he needs a united Congress to help him get that done. And that's not there.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Will, what you're hearing Linda say there is that the president's agenda is being stalled by other forces. Is there a point, though, that you could say, all right, whatever the reasons, Trump's not delivering?

ESTRADA: You know, I actually disagree with that premise that the president is not delivering. He has had one of the most successful, you know, first 200 days that I can ever imagine. I mean, start at the very beginning. The regulations that have been ended, the midnight regulations that were just overturned, the 14 Congressional Review Acts that Congress passed that the president signed into law, ending very, you know, problematic regulations that were holding back the economy, that were limiting state sovereignty.

Then you look at the Paris Climate Accord. You look at what's going on over at the Veterans Affairs - the legislation that's been passed which the president signed into law, allowing high-level federal bureaucrats to be fired at the VA who are not getting the job done. I think when people say the president is - has not gotten a lot accomplished, they're specifically referring to health care reform - that Obamacare hasn't been repealed. And I always remind people, look at how long it took President Obama to get Obamacare passed. It took over a year for that to be accomplished. I know the president is still engaged on that. We've got tax reform that's coming up. So I see an effective president.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'd like to get the view of all three of you from the events in Charlottesville and the president's reaction there. Did he show leadership to you? And I want to start with Kevin and then Linda and then Will.

EISBRENNER: Yeah, sure. I believe he showed leadership. Of course, the media are not happy if he says something too quick. They're not happy if he says something too slow. He laid it out. There is fault on both sides. You have the alt-left and the alt-right. You have extremists on both ends. I do know that...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But the people that were at the protests were actually chanting anti-Semitic and racist slogans. People would say that neo-Nazis cannot be equated with people who are protesting against racism.

EISBRENNER: No, that's - they're extremists. He denounced that. There's no place for these people flying a Nazi flag in this country. That doesn't fly. You know, you have normal people that have their opinions coming to these events. Unfortunately, one young woman lost her life because of it. She wasn't there in riot gear. She wasn't an extremist. But you have these two extreme sides. Now, I may not agree with what they're saying, but I'll protect their right to say it. Now, the president - he denounced all the violence. He denounced both sides. You know, we often - we have to sit down and clearly compromise that. It's a different time now. And we can't be honoring things that promoted racism. For example, let's move it to a museum. Let's move it to a more appropriate area. But you can't be out there just arbitrarily destroying property.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Linda, Kevin supports the president's position that there were two sides to what happened in Charlottesville. And yet, you know, we do know that that woman who was killed was mowed down by someone with extremist views and a car. And that seemed to have been a deliberate act. Do you feel that the president's response was the correct one?

CAUDILL: Hate on all sides is wrong. Violence on all sides is wrong. And that has to stop. But, thankfully, those groups are very low in numbers. The media does a wonderful job, unfortunately, of making them look like like they're larger numbers than they really are. But the vast majority of Americans do not subscribe to that thinking.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Will, does the discussion about the monuments and their fate resonate for you? Do you think it's an important discussion to have right now?

ESTRADA: Oh, I think it is an important discussion. But it needs to be just that - a thoughtful, measured discussion where we respect each other, where we understand that we're all Americans. And so that kind of needs to be our guiding light as we have this discussion. It's been a discussion that's been ongoing in our nation for a long time. You know, I remember a few years ago with the heartbreaking massacre at the Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina. They had that discussion. They took the Confederate battle flag down from some of the state monuments. So there's nothing wrong with having this debate and this respectful discussion as Americans, you know, respecting each other and then deciding what's best.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Linda Caudill of Cincinnati, Ohio, Kevin Eisbrenner of Livonia, Mich., and Will Estrada of Lovettsvile, Va., thank you all so much.

CAUDILL: Thank you.

EISBRENNER: Thank you.

ESTRADA: Thank you, Lulu.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLORATONE'S "THE PASSENGER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.