The fuss over Donald Trump seems largely lost on many of those who support him. Where his critics see bigotry, they see common sense.
At Rosie’s Hotdogs in upstate South Carolina, Tracy Hooker isn’t interested in debating the merits of Trump’s proposal to temporarily block Muslims from coming into the United States.
She knows some think it’s xenophobic. That others argue it’s impractical, legally dubious, or both. And that every other Republican running for president has, in some way or another, rejected the idea that it is even worth talking about.
That’s why she says Trump is ‘‘my guy.’’
He’s the only one who gets it.
‘‘Think about it,’’ Hooker, 47, said of the Muslim tourists, immigrants, and refugees Trump wants to bar from coming to the United States. ‘‘You don’t know if they like us. You don’t know if they hate us,.’’ She added: ‘‘You don’t know why they’re here.’’
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last week found that a solid majority of Americans, 57 percent, opposed Trump’s proposal. A CBS News poll also found nearly 6 in 10 Americans oppose the ban, with two-thirds saying it goes against the country’s founding principles.
But Republicans are far more receptive: 54 percent voiced support for the ban in the CBS poll.
While Trump trailed Senator Ted Cruz of Texas in a new Republican presidential preference poll in Iowa, conducted by the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg News, he continues to lead the field nationwide.
A CNN survey taken Dec. 4 showed Trump with 36 percent support among registered Republicans overall.
To the dozens of Trump supporters interviewed in the past week by the Associated Press in the first-to-vote states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, the near universal condemnation of the billionaire’s plan on Muslim travel is simply baffling.
After the Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., terrorist attacks, these voters say, only Trump is taking on what they believe is a clear and present danger to the United States.
‘‘When you’re in war, you have to take steps that are not American to protect yourself and defend the country,’’ said Margaret Shontz, of Cedar Falls, Iowa, as she arrived at a Trump campaign stop in Des Moines on Friday.
Trump’s call to bar Muslims from coming to America is ‘‘awesome.’’
‘‘Very needed,’’ she said. ‘‘Very necessary.’’
By their own description, Trump supporters are frustrated and angry about the direction of the nation. They fret over the economy, feel betrayed by the nation’s immigration policy, and worry America has lost its way on the world stage.
In interviews with the AP, they argued Trump’s plan for Muslims who want to come to the United States is a bold proposal that regular politicians are too timid to make. They feel the criticism that comes from those same politicians is rooted in the weakness Trump promises to sweep away.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.