LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Republican front-runner Donald Trump, looking to do well in Super Tuesday presidential primaries and beyond, promised to protect issues that voters say they’re tired of seeing Washington neglect.
“I’m ready for change, and I think he’s the one who can do it,” said Karen Dohn, 65, as she watched a crowd of a couple of thousand file into Louisville’s International Convention Center on Tuesday.
For Dohn and others who came to hear the candidate ahead of Saturday’s Kentucky caucuses, Trump signified a break from the “good old boys” in Washington who they believe haven’t fulfilled their promises to the state. Insurance salesman David Clarkson, 42, said other candidates, like politicians in Washington, have been paid off by special interests. “[Kentuckians] are willing to try anything. … You just want to try it to see if it’s going to work.”
In a speech that lasted less than an hour, Trump shared his views on immigration, manufacturing, national security and clean coal, an industry that “Obama decimated,” he said.
The billionaire’s allure is his no-holds-barred approach to politics, which mirrors his approach to business and resonates with middle class workers, said Ken Nichter, 45.
“Yes, he’s failed, but he knows how to recoup,” Nichter said. “He knows how to get business done.”
Take his idea for Carrier, an air-conditioner manufacturer that recently announced it would move its operations to Mexico. If elected president, Trump said he would impose a 35 percent tax on every unit Carrier sends to the United States. Trump predicted he would hear from the company in 24 hours, to let him know they’ve decided to stay.
Nichter said he’s unconcerned by Trump’s lack of political experience, particularly since he’s said that his vice president would be a political insider. And though some evangelicals may question Trump’s standing in the church, “as long as he’s got something to believe in, I’m good,” Nichter said. “He’s a family man,” he added. Trump’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric accompanied him to Louisville.
Protesters interrupted the rally several times, eliciting shouts of “Get out! Get out of here!” from Trump. In a less politically correct environment, Trump said, people wouldn’t be as nice.
He criticized Obama’s approach to dealing with the Islamic State and terrorists. Trump said he had no qualms supporting the use of waterboarding, an interrogation technique that has been classified as torture.
“We have people chopping off our heads. We have people chopping off the heads of Christians and everybody else. And we’re worried about waterboarding,” he said. “It’s absolutely fine.”
Kentucky voters are worried about the economy, said Marie Helton, 52. Trump’s aggressive nature and distance from Capitol Hill stand out to her as positive traits for the next commander-in-chief. But she does want to hear more specifics from him, she said.
“All the things he says he’s going to do, one man can’t do it,” she said.
Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016
Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.