Every Sunday afternoon for the past month, A.P. Dillon, a writer and mom in Cary, N.C., has given her two sons activities to stay busy while she heads for her computer with a spreadsheet that tracks President Donald Trump’s executive orders and actions.
“He’s doing what he said he was going to do,” said Dillon, who voted for Trump. “He’s not like anyone we’ve ever seen before.”
84% of Republicans say Trump is making changes for the better, in a new McClatchy-Marist poll
On Tuesday night, when Trump addresses the nation and a joint session of Congress, Dillon will be looking for the president to show America “what’s around the bend” and preview the rest of his first year in office.
“What I don’t want to hear are a lot of platitudes,” she said. Instead, she’s hoping Trump will try to show more of how he’ll govern, perhaps focusing on an issue like education, where he could build consensus among Democrats and people who didn’t vote for him.
She’s hardly alone in her optimism about Trump. McClatchy this week talked to the president’s supporters in the Raleigh and Charlotte areas, voters who helped give the Republican a victory in one of the nation’s most closely-contested swing states.
They, like Trump backers around the country, remain loyal. A new McClatchy-Marist poll found 78 percent of Republicans are proud of the president and 84 percent said he’s making changes for the better.
Trump’s unique style, and his status as a political outsider, won him fans during the 2016 campaign, and they’re sticking with him.
“This man is a catalyst. ... (A voice) for those of us who can’t say that or are not being heard,” said Tony Abbinante of Charlotte. “He’s not the average president.”
Every day that (Trump) keeps another promise is a day he engenders more of my trust.
A.P. Dillon, Trump voter in Cary, N.C.
They look forward to hearing more Tuesday. Donna Williams, a conservative Republican in Raleigh, said Trump has moved quickly since Inauguration Day. Now, she said, Trump should “give us an update ... give us your vision as to where this is going.”
Some do want a bit of change. In Charlotte, Lorena Castillo-Ritz recommended Trump think about using his “inside voice.” Others said they’d like to see less stream-of-consciousness-style tweeting from the president.
Trump could use fewer “unforced errors,” as Dillon called them. One such hiccup came in Trump’s first week on the job when confusion ensued at a few major U.S. airports following Trump’s immigration and refugee order.
The order, aimed at temporarily halting the entry into this country of refugees from seven predominantly Muslim nations, generally won high praise among Trump’s North Carolina supporters. They called it a political issue that overlaps with national security, concerns about cultural assimilation, and worries about federal government spending on services for new residents.
“I’m not going to say it’s a blanket mistake to accept refugees ... but they do need to be screened and vetted. The sheer volume coming in and not being vetted is the purpose of the ban,” said Tom Eaton, a conservative in Winston-Salem.
Castillo-Ritz, whose family immigrated legally from El Salvador in the 1950s, praised Trump’s action but hopes he’ll stop short of trying to deport the estimated nearly 11 million undocumented people living in the U.S.
“My father came to this country and joined the Army,” she said. “They were vetted, they went through physicals, they made sure they weren’t bringing TB into the country. My father went into the Korean War. My mother came and she went to school and assimilated into the culture.”
It took an atypical presidential candidate to convince Betty Gregory in Charlotte – a past supporter of President Barack Obama – to vote Republican in 2016. Gregory, a retiree, voted for Trump after she became disillusioned by rising healthcare premiums under Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Still, it stung earlier this month when she said Trump seemed to know little about abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
Gregory, who is African-American, said she was disappointed “that he doesn’t have enough African-Americans on his staff, and I voted for him, and I was disappointed that he didn’t have a clue who Frederick Douglass was. He needs to get information about all of the communities he’s serving.”
But she’s still behind Trump. “He’s doing what he said he would do. We just need to make sure that he doesn’t leave anybody out,” she said.
Throughout North Carolina, many have made clear they feel left out and have taken their frustrations to the doorsteps of local members of Congress and the state’s two Republican senators.
Trump’s fans argue the unrest is disrespectful and unwarranted. It’s made it difficult for the president to properly govern in his first month, said Kelly Tain, a Charlotte political consultant.
“You protest the day after President Trump’s inauguration. Protesting what? Wait for some type of policy,” Tain said.
Williams, in Raleigh, said the divide and arguing between Trump’s base and anti-Trump Americans feels out of hand and is made worse by media coverage of what she calls unconfirmed leaks and erroneous reports.
Trump’s detractors, Williams said, “truly are afraid that Donald Trump is going to ruin this country.”