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Trump Voters Discuss The President's Comments On Confederate Monuments


Wisconsin helped Donald Trump become president. His narrow victory there made Trump the first Republican to carry the state since Ronald Reagan in 1984. Trump's recent comments about the violence in Charlottesville and about Confederate monuments do concern some of his voters in Wisconsin. But many say they're still behind the president. Chuck Quirmbach of Wisconsin Public Radio has more.

CHUCK QUIRMBACH, BYLINE: The suburbs west of Milwaukee have long been a key GOP stronghold. And while voters there didn't go for Donald Trump as wholeheartedly as they have for some other Republican candidates, Trump carried the region last fall. As a man riding a lawn mower cut the grass outside the post office in Wauwatosa, retiree Jerry Randall said he's not bothered by Trump suggesting both sides or many sides were to blame for violence at the white supremacist's rally in Charlottesville.

JERRY RANDALL: He told the truth. What else do you want? I mean it's foolish to tear down statues and monuments and things like that. People are trying to rewrite history, change what happened 150 years ago - makes no sense.

QUIRMBACH: Randall says he would absolutely vote for Trump again today because Randall says the president is telling the people what he thinks and is trying to cut taxes and get rid of the Affordable Care Act. Another retired man, Jim Lampada, also says Trump was right to blame both sides for the Charlottesville violence but could have made his point another way.

JIM LAMPADA: It's just that sometimes he talks a little out of place, and people misconstrued what he's talking about, you know, sometimes, you know? I believe he shouldn't be on the Twitter.

QUIRMBACH: Lampada says he's willing to give the president more time. Katie Matson says Trump's comments about Charlottesville are correct, but Matson says that doesn't mean she likes everything about the president.

KATIE MATSON: There's been a lot of things that he's done and said since he's been in office that I don't agree and that, you know, a person thinks twice about. And then I think we have to remember he is not a politician. But we knew that going into this.

QUIRMBACH: Outside the post office in West Allis, Bill Heacocks doesn't criticize Trump's comments about white supremacists. As Heacocks says, it's a racist country.

BILL HEACOCKS: It's terrible, you know, that they're doing this. I don't know. The country's falling apart. But I think Donald Trump is going to do a lot, you know, making this country great again, you know? I'd back him for that.

QUIRMBACH: A Latino, Don Castillo won't say if he voted for Trump last fall, calling himself an independent. Castillo says Trump is not very diplomatic but not entirely wrong about Virginia if the president is supporting free speech.

DON CASTILLO: We have groups that are co-existing in this country whether you like them or not - hate groups, other groups, religious groups. And they are all protected under the same language. And these are the issues that people should be talking about.

QUIRMBACH: While opinion polls show that President Trump is maintaining his support among most Republicans, he's struggling to hold onto other voters. A statewide poll earlier this summer showed him at 41 percent approval in this battleground state. For NPR News, I'm Chuck Quirmbach in Milwaukee.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Chuck Quirmbach is a Milwaukee-based reporter who covers developments and issues in Southeastern Wisconsin that are of statewide interest. He has numerous years of experience covering state government, elections, the environment, energy, racial diversity issues, clergy abuse claims and major baseball stadium doings. He enjoys covering all topics.
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