Republican officials rallied almost unanimously around Donald J. Trump after his impeachment, but the actual GOP voters who will pass judgment on his political future next year were not nearly as firmly behind him.
Some past Trump voters said the indictment, the first ever by a former president, was the latest norms shatter in a ledger already filled with chaos from the Trump years, and that it was time for their party to move on. continue the search for a candidate for 2024.
In Hawthorne, NY, Scott Gray, a surveyor who voted for Trump in two elections, said he was tired of him.
“I think he’s done a lot of things right,” said Mr. Gray, and then immediately shot the other way, “I think he’s completely unpresidential. I can’t believe he’s still a candidate.’
Alternatively, Mr. Gray said he was interested in “that guy in Florida who’s governor – DeSantis.” (Ron DeSantis, who is expected to run but has not yet announced a campaign, is Mr. Trump’s closest rival for the GOP nomination in recent polls of primary voters.)
In conversations with Republican voters across the country, Mr. Trump’s indictment brought out a great deal of anger, occasional embarrassment, and a swirl of conflicting reactions, similar to every other twist in Donald Trump’s year-long high drama.
As expected, many rallied around the former president and called the indictment by a New York Democratic prosecutor a sham — a provocation they say would only cement their allegiance to Mr Trump, who for years has encouraged supporters to launch attacks against him as well. to see. attacks on them.
But for some, the rush to defend has been weighed down by scandal fatigue and a sense that Mr. Trump’s time is over.
Outside Wild Cherry Nail and Hair Studio in Port Richey, Fla., Ilyse Internicola and Meghan Seltman, both Trump supporters, discussed the indictment on Friday during a smoke break.
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“How far will they go?” asked Mrs. Internicola, a hairdresser at the salon.
Ms. Seltman, a manicurist, said she would “always be true” to Mr. Trump. “But for the presidency, I’d like to see DeSantis get his chance,” she said. “He’s done a good job with Florida, and I’d like to see what he does with the nation. Bring it back to how it used to be.”
Mr. Trump was indicted by a grand jury on Thursday more than two dozen countswith an arraignment expected on Tuesday when specific charges will be revealed.
Polling has shown a clear shift to Mr. Trump among Republicans in recent months, primarily at the expense of Mr. DeSantis, which may reflect in part the long-awaited indictment, on allegations stemming from a $130,000 payment to a porn star on the eve of the 2016 election. Mr Trump misrepresented the day of his arrest and called for protests, in an effort to galvanize his supporters. His provocations included posting a photo of himself with a baseball bat next to a photo of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg.
William Stelling, a realtor in Jacksonville, Florida, once kept his options open about the 2024 Republican primary. But the indictment spurred him to stand up for the former president.
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“I dust off my Trump flags and hang them proudly,” said Mr. Stelling. “This proves to me that he is the right candidate. Because they’re throwing the sink at him on a trumped-up charge that we all know is a felony at best.”
Debbie Dooley, a staunch Trump loyalist who helped found the Atlanta Tea Party, went so far as to organize a rally for Mr. Trump on Thursday during DeSantis’ visit to an Atlanta suburb. She said the charges reinforced her belief that he would win the presidency in his third campaign.
“I’m going to go ahead and book a hotel in DC for the inauguration because Trump will be the next president of the United States,” she said. “The prosecution does nothing but help him.”
And Allan Terry, a Trump supporter in Charleston, SC, who has Trump flags hanging in his front and back yard, plans to add a new one to his truck, he said.
“If he messed up, so what?” Mr Terry said of the payment to former porn star, Stormy Daniels, which prosecutors say is behind campaign finance and business document violations. ‘It’s immoral. It’s wrong. He shouldn’t have. If he did, what does that have to do with his presidency?”
But not all past Trump backers share such loyalties. In a poll from Quinnipiac University one in four Republicans and one in three independents, released ahead of charges this week, said criminal charges should disqualify Trump as a presidential candidate.
a Fox News poll of the potential Republican field this week showed Mr. Trump with 54 percent of primary voter support, followed by Mr. DeSantis with 24 percent and others including former Vice President Mike Pence and Nikki Haley, the former US ambassador and governor of South Carolina, in single digits.
In Iowa, which will host the first Republican nominating contest early next year, Gypsy Russ, who lives in Iowa City, said she once supported Trump but doubted he could win the party’s embrace again.
“There aren’t enough Republicans to support him,” she said.
Ms. Russ said that Mr. Trump had shown time and time again that he is not presidential. “He’s just very rude,” she said. “And he doesn’t talk the way a president is supposed to talk.” Although he has many fans, including her parents, she added, “He has stopped gaining followers because of the way he carries himself.”
Jim Alden, a Republican businessman from Franconia, NH, who is not exactly a fan of Mr. Trump, nevertheless predicted that the indictment would bolster his support because Republicans deem the conduct underlying the allegations unimportant, and they believe the politics Mr. Trump drove. Bragg, the Manhattan District Attorney, in his investigation.
“Unfortunately, it will embolden Trump’s core supporters because he has cultivated this persecution complex, and being charged on what may be a questionably strong case will only reinforce the persecution complex,” said Mr. Alden.
One of those core supporters was Keith Marcus, who owns a wholesale beauty supply business in New York City.
“I’m shocked and I’m upset,” he said. The charges “set a very bad precedent for the future,” he added. “It’s just a witch hunt. The DA is a joke – a total joke.
But the indictment also seemed to have shaken the willingness of some Trump voters to support him in a bid for another four years in the White House.
In Hawthorne, NY, a red island of Republican voters in New York’s otherwise liberal northern suburbs, Palmy Vocaturo said he voted for Trump twice, but his faith in him has been eroded in light of the criminal investigations, not just in Manhattan But in cases prosecuted by a Georgia prosecutor and special counsel from the Justice Department.
“I get mixed feelings,” says Mr. Vocaturo, a retired construction worker. “If he’s as bad as I think he is, go ahead and do something,” he said of the charges.
Jon HurdleElizabeth Parker and Hayley Johnson reporting contributed.