Michael Barnett, a 39-year-old lawyer from Palm Beach, Florida, expressed similar sentiments. “I’m still supporting Trump, now more than ever,” he said. “Hillary had a bad couple of weeks, now Trump’s having a downturn, but it’s going to even out. Trump is the real deal. What some people find a detriment, others find refreshing, that he’s been willing to speak his mind and say what the silent majority are thinking.”
At Trump rallies, the row over Humayun Khan, the American Muslim soldier killed in Iraq in 2004, does not seem to matter to superfans decked out in campaign merchandise. Many drive hours and then stand in lines for hours more in order to see their idol. At a recent rally in Virginia, a New Jersey native, Bill McKee, said that while he was attending his first rally in person, he normally watched them on the One America News Network, a niche rightwing competitor to Fox News that broadcasts every event.
Several key states in the election have strong military connections, which could be decisive in close races. Some 60 Republicans in the House of Representatives are veterans, and the Observer attempted to contact all of them with few responses. Among those who did respond, support for Trump was mostly holding, although some were sharply critical of his conduct towards the family of Khan.
“I spent 26 years in the US air force,” said the Ohio representative Bill Johnson. “I understand the sacrifices our service members and their families make. Humayun Khan gave his life in the service of America, and he is a hero. Mr Trump should show that Gold Star family more respect, just as Hillary Clinton should show the Gold Star families of the Benghazi heroes more respect.