Nolan Finley reports from White Lake as supporters for Donald Trump meet and talk about why they are still enthusiastic about him. Nolan Finley, The Detroit News
The Trump base is not as angry as I expected, not as defensive and certainly not as disappointed in how the presidency of the man they carried into office is unfolding.
In fact, when I stopped by a Michigan Republicans for Trump rally at a White Lake restaurant the other night, I found a group of 80-100 diehard Trump backers as passionate and optimistic as they were on election night last fall.
Where others see a White House in chaos, the Trump base sees a president fighting through historic resistance from Democrats, relentless attacks by the media and the despicable disloyalty of congressional Republicans and still getting things done.
“If you look what he’s accomplished in the short time he’s been in office, it’s incredible,” says Rosanne Ponkowski of West Bloomfield, president of the Michigan Conservative Coalition.
The crowd at Dave & Amy’s diner was older, nearly all white and a mix of middle class blue- and white-collar workers. If they were disappointed that Trump hasn’t been able to deliver on repeal and replacement of Obamacare and other promises he made during the campaign, there was no sign of it. The unyielding criticism of Trump from the media and the elites has only confirmed their view of the president as a fighter at war with the corrupt Washington establishment.
“Under the extraordinary and historical attacks and sabotage to take this president down, I think he’s doing great,” says Polly Kingsley of Milford. “I can’t imagine anybody else facing this kind of pressure and still accomplishing what he’s accomplishing.”
At most Republican rallies, the antagonists are liberals. Not so in White Lake. The Democratic Party was hardly mentioned. The new boogeyman is the media, and the base has enlisted in Trump’s war with the press.
“It seems to be a one-sided story all the time,” says Tim Rugg, a firefighter from Highland Township. “With President Trump, they’re continually beating, pounding. It’s just seems like they’re working for someone to try to undo what we wanted for America.”
Asked what “fake news” means, Rugg says, “Yellow journalism. Don’t tell the truth. Try to get something out there without the proper facts.” And he believes the press is a party to, “a silent coup going on to remove President Trump from office.”
Richard George says when Trump talks about fake news, it’s about more than getting the facts wrong.
“It’s the stories they choose to run and how they play them,” he says. “The negative stories go to the top, and they ignore the positive stories.”
Among this group, only congressional Republicans fare worse than journalists. They feel the GOP leadership has failed Trump, and is not really committed to the president’s success.
“I’ve never been happy with the Democrats,” says Ponkowski. “But the Republicans aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing. They’re not upholding the Republican platform. They’re not doing what we sent them there to do.
“They still have not heard the message, as incredible as that seems.”
Rallies like the one in White Lake are being held throughout the state, Ponkowski says, to make sure Donald Trump hears this message:
“We’ve got your back.”