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During Tuesday night's Republican National Convention, culturally conservative women were front and center.
In her speech, First Lady Melania Trump sent a general appeal to American mothers: “To mothers and parents everywhere, you are warriors. In my husband, you have a president who will not stop fighting for you and your families.”
But polls show a significant portion of women has deserted Trump. In an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released in June, 66% of suburban women disapproved of the president.
Susan Sherman of Lake Mary, Florida, and Sonia McMasters of Round Rock, Texas — both longtime supporters of the president — believe, despite the polls, that Trump has a shot at a second term.
Sherman, who is president of the Suburban Republican Women’s Club, says Trump's assertions that the suburbs need protection, an idea that was reiterated on the first night of the RNC by the gun-touting Mark and Patricia McCloskey, resonates with her because of how many people are moving into Florida.
Roughly 900 people move to Florida day, which means the state needs more housing, she says.
McMasters, who identifies as a Hispanic Latina, agrees. She says people from California, Washington and Illinois are flocking to her small town outside of Austin.
“I sit on the housing authority board in the town that I live in and I see how hard it is for us to try to help the needy,” she says. “And at the same time, when you have a little town that doesn't have more boundaries to grow on, how are these people going to find places to live? “
Sherman says families that are moving to the Sunshine State are coming from Democratic cities in New York, New Jersey and California, for example, and bringing their “different views” with them.
While some would say Sherman’s view is about preserving the idea of an all-white suburb, she says that’s not the case.
“Doesn't matter [about] race, it's more of how we will change our school districts,” she says. “You know, we have great school districts here in Seminole County. So when you bring that ideology in, it's going to stir it up — and that's the change that they're afraid of.”
On top-of-mind issues as Election Day nears
Susan Sherman: “Well, many issues for myself and those in central Florida, a lot of their issues [are] the country may be turning toward socialism, concern of defunding the police, rioting happening. There's different topics that have truly come up since COVID-19. You never really heard anyone really talk about these three until after COVID-19 really started.”
On the Trump administration proposing a nearly 50% cut to the cops hiring program in the 2019 budget plan
Sherman: “He has to do a budget just like anyone else. So if he has to reduce that budget and move it to other areas, then, yes, it's just like running a business. With that being said, then it has to go back to your state, your county and your city to do their budgeting.”
Sonia McMasters: “The city of Austin defunded our police department ... We've had major riots here in Austin and then they get mad because they want protection while they're doing this.”
On conversations around defunding the police
McMasters: “… They want money taken away from the police department. They really don't want a police department because they want to do whatever they want. They want to go back to the olden days of the wild, wild West. That is my opinion on it. It may not be everybody else's opinion, but I respect my police department.”
On if they are satisfied with Trump’s handling of the coronavirus health crisis
McMasters: “Oh, yes, I'm very happy because well, you got to remember, we survived the swine flu. We survived the Spanish flu. We have survived other flu that has surpassed in here. And we've never had to treat it the way we are treating this one. Yeah, it's good to be careful, but at the same time, we've got to move on and we've got to survive out of it.”
Sherman: “To be quite honest, we still don't know the true numbers. Every day they come out different — if it's a false positive, if it's positive. So my concern is, what are the true numbers of how many are truly new testing being done? I think we're doing the right things that we need to. But, yes, I think the administration is doing right with the numbers and with the information that they are receiving.”
On Trump’s immigration policy and calls to build a wall
McMasters: “I want that wall to completely protect the United States. It's not for reasons of trying to separate two countries from each other. I wanted to separate the criminals from coming into our country. The thing that hurts me the most is that the media surpasses this to become a crazy, wild thing when it's not. … People are willing to comply. I mean, I've seen pictures and videos of people that are waiting in Arizona, waiting in New Mexico, waiting in the borders cities of Texas where they're waiting for their documents. They're filling out their documents to get permission to come across instead of doing it illegally.”
On some GOP voters who say they are turned off by Trump’s use of Twitter
Sherman: “I do hear that all the time. I actually even have a lot of voters who say they don't want to vote for him just because of Twitter. And I always tell everyone when you vote, you should have three issues of whoever you're choosing cause you're never gonna have a perfect candidate — and [Trump’s Twitter use] is only one issue. Twitter, in my opinion, he uses because he gets so frustrated with the other side, trying to make, you know, laws pass, make deals work. ... And he gets so frustrated they don't work that he uses Twitter and it's kind of like, here, let me throw something out there that you can talk about this while I get something done.”
On whether what Trump says on Twitter is representative of his ability to lead
Sherman: “I mean, he is a human being just like all of us, and we can say what we like to say. He can use Twitter just as much as you and I can use Twitter. Do I think he should maybe back off a little? Yes. You know, does he need to be using it every day? Should he be responding to everything? No. But him using it, cutting him off completely, I would say no.”
On the future America they’d like to see
McMasters: “I want everybody to stop hating each other when they don't need to hate each other.”
Sherman: “I agree with that. That we still have our free speech. We still have our Second Amendment. And everyone that lives here can live their dreams. They have the ability, no matter their background, their race, their culture, any of that does not matter. Everyone should have the right to provide for their families, to give their children whatever they desire.”
This segment aired on August 26, 2020.
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