White House

Message of hope from a couple divided: Love can overcome politics

McClatchy

For Americans seeking a way past the divisiveness of the 2016 presidential election, the marriage of Jeff and Wanda Quibell might provide inspiration.

Jeff Quibell is an ardent fan of Donald J. Trump. Wanda Quibell? Not so much.

“I did not vote for Don,” she says.

And yet Wanda agreed to fly with her husband from Blue Springs, Missouri, to Washington, D.C., to celebrate the couple’s 33rd anniversary on Friday.

The romantic locale? Under a steady drizzle, in the cold, at Trump’s swearing-in ceremony.

It was Wanda’s gift to Jeff, whom she married in Las Vegas on Jan. 20, 1984.

“There’s a small part of me that makes me think she changed her mind to come because we’d be apart, and we are rarely apart on our anniversary,” Jeff said fondly, as the couple toasted each other at a bar the night before the inaugural.

The couple met at the Elks Lodge in Warrensburg, Missouri.

“She was somebody else’s date,” Jeff recalled. She was his best friend’s date, actually. But when his friend stopped paying attention to Wanda to flirt with his ex-wife, Jeff stepped in.

“I said, ‘If you’re just going to leave your date standing there, mind if I dance with her?” Jeff said. “And the rest is history.”

The Quibells have two daughters, 30 and 32. Both were supporters of Bernie Sanders. (They’ve told their father they’d rather not hear about their parents’ adventures at the inauguration, he said.)

Wanda, a longtime Democrat, refused to vote for Trump. But she didn’t vote for Hillary either.

It’s a sore enough topic in the Quibell household that she still won’t tell her husband (or a reporter) who she voted for.

She says her role is the moderator in the family.

“At this point I just want to bring everybody together,” Wanda said. “There has been too much separateness, too much division. We need to stop it. We’re all Americans.”

Jeff’s devotion to Trump began when he attended the billionaire’s Kansas City, Missouri, rally in March.

As a city councilman who owns his own software company, Jeff said he felt a kindred spirit with Trump. And after seeing the candidate in person, he felt the media wasn’t giving him a fair rap.

“When you got past all the different rhetoric that was going on — he said things that made people mad — but deep down when you really listened to his message, he was really addressing problems that really mattered to the people,” Jeff said.

“Hillary Clinton,” he said, “was more concerned about things that maybe didn’t affect people on a day-to-day basis, you know, like global warming. That’s going to affect people in the future, but a person who needs a job today is not really going to worry about that. I’m not saying that’s not important, but when you run for public office you have to listen to your constituents, and not what’s important to you. And I think Trump did that.”

After the rally, Jeff said, he tried “really, really hard” to convince Wanda to get on the Trump bandwagon.

“She seemed like she was going to agree, and then that video came out and that was it for her,” Jeff said.

The video, which showed Trump making lewd comments about women, ensured Wanda would never give him her vote.

But now that the election is over, Wanda hopes Trump will be able to bring the country — and her family — together.

“The bottom line is Americans voted,” she said. “He won. People need to come together and support him.”

So in that spirit, Wanda donned an evening gown and joined her bow-tie clad husband at the All-American Ball in downtown Washington on Thursday night. They partied until 12:30 a.m. on Friday, alongside other celebrants who included Buzz Aldrin and Oliver North.

They snatched a few hours’ sleep, then dragged themselves out of bed before sunrise on Friday, their anniversary. By 5 a.m., they were boarding the D.C. Metro, eager to beat the crowds to the National Mall for the swearing-in ceremony.

They hadn’t had time for breakfast, and they’d forgotten to bring snacks. They got wet, and they didn’t get seats up front, as they’d hoped.

After the ceremony, they made it past protestors to a pizza restaurant, famished.

Jeff was triumphant, buoyed by Trump’s speech.

“People don’t think he’s supportive of all Americans,” he said. “They say he’s in it just for himself. But I heard very, very clearly he’s there for all Americans.”

Wanda hopes for the best for her husband’s sake, and for the country’s.

But four years from now, even if Trump gets re-elected, she’s probably going to insist on a non-political anniversary.

Lindsay Wise: 202-383-6007, @lindsaywise

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