Millions have clogged sidewalks, streets and boulevards to protest his policies and executive actions. Two of his cabinet picks are out — one before he was even confirmed — and lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle are calling for probes of his campaign and administration’s ties to Russia.
And that’s just in the first month of Donald Trump’s presidency.
But in Monmouth and Ocean counties, where Trump won by a landslide, the new shine hasn’t dulled a bit among Trump supporters. There is no buyer’s remorse, no second thoughts, no urgent pleas for do-overs — no matter all the “told you so” remonstrations from the MSNBC crowd.
“President Trump showed determination, conviction, how to operate a country,” said David Cohen, 73, of Long Branch, who when asked to “grade” his confidence in Trump, on a scale of 1 to 10, awarded him with “20.” He added: “America is a business, just like a business that Donald Trump owns. How anybody could have doubted his ability to put it together in a unified form is beyond me.”
A pair of Trump campaign signs are still posted on a tree in his front yard.
The Asbury Park Press checked in with a half-dozen Trump supporters from the Shore, including three Republican National Convention delegates. Each gave the president strong marks and largely approved of his controversial moves on immigration, cabinet picks and even what one called his habit to “tweet before he thinks.”
“I signed up for Twitter just because he’s on it,” said Jackson resident Stephen De Marzo, 54, who compared the tweets to former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “fireside chats” during World War II.
The local sampling, however discrete, is representative of Trump’s GOP support across the nation.
About 86 percent of Republicans approved of Trump in a recent Gallup Poll. Democrats? Not so much. Just 12 percent of Democrats approve of his job performance so far; 41 percent of independents approved.
Overall, his approval rating sat at 52 percent. The survey, however, was taken before this week’s revelations over the Trump team’s alleged dealings with Russia.
Ocean County was Trump’s biggest county in New Jersey, where he received more than 179,000 votes. His large victory in Monmouth County — he received 167,000 votes, third among counties — helped propel local Republican incumbent candidates to re-election.
Among the Trump faithful, what little dissent there has been centers around the subtle aspects of Trump’s policies and overall presidency. “Calm down. Calm down,” said Toms River Councilman Brian Kubiel, 56, asked by a reporter what advice he would offer Trump.
“You want to speak the truth, but you can’t just react to every decision someone makes. You’re not the CEO of your company. You’re the CEO of the United States.”
The confidence shown by Trump supporters barely cracked over the last two days, when National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned and labor secretary appointee Andrew Puzder pulled his nomination.
Flynn resigned on Tuesday amid reports that he discussed lifting U.S. sanctions against Russia — this while President Obama still occupied the White House — and lied when he told Vice President Mike Pence that he had not. In a series of tweets, Trump blamed the intelligence community for leaking word of the disclosures.
“The thing that troubles me is the perception that the vice president didn’t have full knowledge and disclosure of all the facts,” said Sean Gertner, 51, a Jackson attorney and RNC delegate. “Even folks who disagree with him on policy respect him as a person. And the idea that he may have gone ahead on something without full knowledge? That’s troubling.”
But Cohen agreed with Trump, blaming Flynn’s resignation on leaks aiming to “bring Trump down.”
“Why are we condemning Flynn? He dedicated his life to supporting the United States of America. Why should we condemn him without knowing more,” Cohen said.
PROFILE: A Republican in blue Long Branch
De Marzo, who owns a greenhouse in town, said firing Flynn was “giving into the crazy liberal left.” And like Cohen, De Marzo doesn’t believe that Flynn “jeopardized the country in any way, shape or form.”
“I would not have shown that weakness,” De Marzo said. “You asked for his (Flynn’s) resignation for what purpose? To give the wolves some meat so they can feel like they won and defuse the situation?”