The Women Supporting Trump: Interviews From The Campaign Trail
By Zach Roberts
By now, most of you have probably read a dozen or so articles about Trump’s sexism, his remarks on how women should be “punished” for getting an abortion serving as just the latest example.
But what I’ve found odd about these think pieces is that few of them include the insights of actual female Trump supporters. With that in mind, in March I drove six hours to catch a Donald Trump rally at the massive I-X Center in Cleveland, Ohio, to interview these enigmatic voters, in the hopes of exploring this question: What’s in the mind of a voter who supports a candidate who speaks down to people of their gender?
The Trump voters I spoke with live in one of the few true swing states in the general election, and played a role in him earning nearly 36% of the vote in the Ohio primary — a sizable amount, but not enough for him to thwart an upset by John Kasich. They’re also, according to pollsters, somewhat anomalous. NBC reported in a national poll in March that “about half (47%) of Republican female primary voters said they could not imagine themselves voting for Trump.” That number goes down even further when Hillary Clinton is given as the other option — in that scenario, only 31% of women would vote for Trump.
Approaching these interviews, people seemed more apprehensive and even defensive than I had experienced at previous rallies. The Chicago protests that happened the day before were likely part of the reason. Everyone at the I-X Center would have driven by a couple dozen anti-Trump protesters as they entered the parking lot, which likely added to the already tense scene. The Trump crowd also seemed to loved the presence of the protesters, though — and played right into the script by yelling things like “Get a job!” and “Get off welfare” (the latter, of course, aimed specifically at a young African-American protester).
Many of the men and women I spoke to revealed the tell-tale signs of racism and sexism, speaking in the coded language of “polite” discrimination. But not all were of this crowd. Most of the women who agreed to be interviewed were single-issue voters — Cynthia supports Trump because of his (questionable) stance against the the Iraq War. Kim just seemed to love The Donald’s swagger — which reminded me of the 2004 “Who would you want to share a drink with?” question that helped illuminate why Dubya trounced John Kerry.
Here are how five women responded when I asked why they’re supporting Trump.
Committed to Trump. Volunteering as a sign distributor — must have worked as a carnival barker in a previous life.
Kim: I am a wife and mammy . . . and that’s what I do.
Zach: So why are you supporting Donald Trump?
Kim: Well, I am sick of the silent majority that has put us where we are right now. We don’t say what we think, because it is politically incorrect, or somebody might think something of us that isn’t true. And I think this man has a plan — plus he’s got them all shook up. If you’re shaking up the whole thing, you got to be doing something right.
Zach: So what do you mean by all shook up?
Kim: They’re all scared, they all want him out. There’s a reason for that. Because people ain’t buyin’ it. And they’re not used to that in Washington.
Zach: Do you think that we’ll see protestors here today?
Kim: I’ve already seen a few. They were a pitiful little crowd and I can understand why they’re protesting, because they miss their baby mama, looking for welfare checks.
Zach: So as a woman why do you support Trump . . .
Kim: Oh, everybody is saying he’s so against women; if the truth be told, all men kind of have that attitude. Some of them are trained better, at keeping it in, but it’s just what it is.
Retired food service worker at VA Hospital from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. First time voting in a “long time.” Wouldn’t have voted without Trump in the race.
Agnes: I’m a retired food service worker from the VA Hospital, and I’m supporting Trump because I believe that he is an honest down-right American guy. And there’s nothing else we need in our United States of America right now, or the White House for that matter.
It’s the same speeches, it’s the same promises, it’s the same everything and you just can’t do that, and he isn’t gonna do that. That’s just the way I feel . . . that he’s got that strength. [That] he’s gonna change [things].
Retired teacher from Doylestown, Ohio. Undecided between Donald Trump and John Kasich.
Daisy: I am not ready for a woman president. I don’t think I ever will be, quite frankly.
Zach: Not ready for a woman president, or not ready for Hillary?
Daisy: Oh, Hillary? Absolutely not. I’m tired of the Bushes, I’m tired of the Clintons, I don’t want either one in there. I want them to go home and take a nap.
Makes hats, flags, and incredible purses. By far the most popular person at the rally outside of Trump. Everyone wanted their photo taken with her.
Cynthia: I’m a millinery designer. I actually have a U.S. patent on this — it looks like a doll, but it’s actually a purse. I do public speaking; I’ve spoken at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and I’m actually helping a friend prototype . . . a flag with the Bill of Rights on the back. These are not only handmade, but made by these hands . . . the wood was hand-rubbed with a mahogany stain. So that’s what I do. So now do you need to know why I support Trump?
Zach: Yeah, why do you support Trump?
Cynthia: I have to tell you, even before Trump announced that he was running, before many candidates were running, I started looking for somebody who did not support the war. And as I say, I did my homework ahead of time. Winston Churchill wrote a whole series of books after World War II. But the one that was [written in] the run up to World War II was called The Gathering Storm. And in the preface, he says, “One day President Roosevelt told me he was asking publicly for suggestions about what the war should be called. I said at once, ‘The Unnecessary War’; there never was a war more easy to stop than that which has just wrecked what was left of the world in the previous struggle.”
I mean, it’s so sad, because this current war in Iraq is the same thing — it was easy to stop. So that was really important to me, someone who had that vision. I didn’t support the war — Hans Blix had . . . pretty much said that they had determined that there were not weapons of mass destruction. I was really lucky my father was an engineer; he said everything deteriorates.
You know, Bernie Sanders also opposed the war, so the irony is they’re more alike than people think. They both opposed the war, and Bernie talks about infrastructure as well. I think he’s got a lot of great policies in that respect as well — I just think that because Trump is a builder, he will actually know how to [build] . . . literally! I know [he’d be] the president and . . . not able to go to every job site. But I just have a feeling that he will actually show up at job sites and when you hear of, often times, contractors overcharging the government — I feel like everybody will know not to pull anything.
Zach: There’s a guy running around here [the event in Cleveland] saying Trump doesn’t treat women right, he’s a sexist. As a woman . . . what do you . . . ?
Cynthia: You can look at everybody’s record. I think [of] how he has hired women in his business. And some of these — like the little tiff with Rosie O’Donnell — I think that sort of thing, when [you have] that celebrity status, [it’s done] to get media attention. You know when they do that sort of thing, both of their supporters just follow them all the more so — so I think something like that isn’t really generally translatable to treating women in general.
Retired nurse from Ohio. One of the angry white voters so many of the pundits are talking about. Knows her stuff.
Zach: Why are you supporting Trump?
Wendy: I support Trump because I support a lot of what he’s said. I’m sick and tired of do-nothings in Congress and Obama’s failed policies, and I think it’s time for something new. And frankly, I’m tired of all the attorneys that have bought the government. I think that it’s the attorneys, especially Ivy attorneys, that have brought this country to its knees, and the founding fathers were not especially attorneys. They came from every walk of life, and I think it’s time that America see that again.
I would rather see someone like Trump get in office. He doesn’t need the financing of special interests. Let’s see what he can do, let’s give him a chance.
Zach: As a woman, why are you supporting Trump?
Wendy: I don’t think that has anything to do with gender, to be honest. I think that I just see a lot of things that are wrong in the United States. We’ve been going in the wrong direction — I don’t like the educational system; I think Common Core is rotten to the core, literally. I don’t like what is happening with the polarization between the races. It reminds me of the situation that we had in the ‘60s — it was not this bad, not for decades. I think we need to reverse course. I don’t like the Iran deal. Iran just launched an intercontinental ballistic missile and it had a very anti-semitic, anti-Israel slogan on it. Ah, hello! What is our current government doing about it? Nothing.