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Republican Voters React To Pro-Trump Extremists' Riot On Capitol Hill

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Yesterday's riots at the U.S. Capitol and President Trump's behavior before and after are making some of his supporters uncomfortable. We spoke with Trump voters across the country to get their take on yesterday's tumultuous events, and NPR's Tovia Smith has this report.

TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: 25-year-old Dylan Costello and 28-year-old Bobby Manson are both construction workers from Quincy, Mass., and they're all in for Trump, with Trump face masks, hats and stickers on their truck.

DYLAN COSTELLO: We have Trump flags here, too.

BOBBY MANSON: I can't pull it out, though. It's got some swears on it.

COSTELLO: Yeah.

MANSON: (Laughter).

SMITH: But as much as he's for Trump, Manson says he's against what Trump supporters did yesterday at the Capitol.

MANSON: They should have never done that. It's - like, it's making Trump look like a bad person. And he's really not. They made him look bad.

SMITH: Manson credits the president for eventually encouraging rioters to leave the Capitol and go home. But at the same time, Costello was quick to add that Trump's tweets and his video were also egging the rioters on.

COSTELLO: He tried to pay both sides, honestly. That's how I feel. I feel he played one side. Then he tried to play the whole other side when everything went down.

SMITH: Jeffrey Stroehmann, a Trump supporter from rural central Pennsylvania, also supports the president and shares the post-election frustration. He went to the Capitol to demonstrate peacefully, he says, but once there, even he got caught up in the energy.

JEFFREY STROEHMANN: There I was going to a different level of protest. And I don't feel that I did anything wrong. I just feel that I was vocalizing more, and a lot of people were. You know, people's pent-up frustrations were starting to pour out.

SMITH: Stroehmann thinks yesterday's violence likely harmed their cause, but he warns lawmakers who discount Trump's supporters do so at their own peril.

STROEHMANN: Donald Trump's just the mouthpiece of what we are feeling. Don't look at it as him inciting us. Look at it as him being the person who is vocalizing our frustrations and our concerns.

SMITH: Gabriel King, who installs floors in Colorado Springs, agrees. He also believes the election was fraudulent, despite the lack of any evidence, and he says he's happy about what happened yesterday.

GABRIEL KING: It's hard to see it happening. But on the other hand, it's like, I'm tired of being bullied by the scum in D.C.

SMITH: King's disdain extends to all members of Congress.

KING: They're not accountable to anybody. They lie about everything. And they're just criminal trash. And so I'm like, thank God. I mean, somebody finally did something.

SMITH: But for others, yesterday was the final straw. Carol Jones, a Tennessee resident, voted for Trump in 2016 and in November. But after seeing his behavior since the election, and especially yesterday, she's full of contempt.

CAROL JONES: He started the whole thing. I mean, it's as plain as the nose on your face. I don't understand it, other than a humongous ego that he had a need to satisfy. I think it's really sad.

SMITH: At a grocery store on the northwest side of Chicago, the only area in the city Trump carried, a middle-aged shopper who declined to give her name says she voted for the president twice, but yesterday's riot leaves her disgusted by him.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: It was treason. It was ridiculous, unacceptable, undemocratic and against the Constitution.

SMITH: Others who feel just as strongly say the only thing to do now is accept the loss and move on. Tovia Smith, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.