These churchgoers are at the heart of the dilemma nagging Republican leaders as they struggle to forge a path between the Grand Old Party and the Party of Trump. These voters don’t consider themselves Republicans. They are first and foremost supporters of the president.
They are quick to explain away the compromises the former real-estate developer and reality TV star has made and the inconsistencies in many of his positions. They describe Washington as a swamp and speak of Democratic and Republican congressional leaders with the same levels of frustration and disappointment — while describing Trump as if he were a longtime neighbor. They have high hopes for his presidency, but they also fear he might be held back by his party. And they don’t expect their devotion to the president to waver, even a tiny bit, any time soon.
“He’s elected as our president. We need to give him our respect,” said Oakes, who has seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. “I’ll vote for him four years from now because I think it will take longer for him to clean up the mess that was left by Obama.”