After Trump Tweets Racist Comments, Some Say They Still Support Him
NOEL KING, HOST:
President Trump is, as you know, facing criticism after he tweeted over the weekend that four Democratic congresswomen should go back to where they came from. But a lot of people who voted for the president still support him. Olivia Reingold of Yellowstone Public Radio went to a shooting range in Billings, Mont., and talked to some people there.
OLIVIA REINGOLD, BYLINE: At Black Butte Range, Jerome Hall is showing a customer how to shoot a semiautomatic weapon.
JEROME HALL: You can use the bottom portion of your hand. You're going to slap that handle right there down. OK.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: OK.
REINGOLD: Hall is a military veteran who served in Afghanistan. Now he's the gunsmith at the range. When he first saw Trump's tweet, he thought it was funny and still does.
HALL: It just makes me giggle that everybody's all up in arms about this.
REINGOLD: That's because he doesn't think Trump was making a racial comment but rather one about the places these Congress people represent.
HALL: Trump saying they need to go back to their country is pretty much him saying, go back to California, go back to New York.
REINGOLD: He wonders if Trump misspoke and meant to say state rather than country. Following Trump's weekend tweet, Montana's Republican U.S. Senator Steve Daines tweeted his own support for the president. It read, quote, "Montanans are sick and tired of listening to anti-American, anti-Semite radical Democrats trash our country and our ideals. This is America. We're the greatest country in the world. I stand with @realDonaldTrump" - end quote. That's not necessarily a controversial statement in Montana where Trump won by 20% in the popular vote against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
ANDREW STAPLETON: Thank you for calling the Black Butte Range. This is Andrew. How can I help you?
REINGOLD: Black Butte Range co-owner Andrew Stapleton is a Montana native who says he doesn't agree with everything President Trump does, but he stands by him when it comes to the controversial tweets.
STAPLETON: Essentially, how I read this is don't throw rocks if you live in a glass house.
REINGOLD: Meaning that if the four Democratic congresswomen that Trump was referring to can't solve problems in their own districts, they shouldn't dish out criticism of the president's policies. Stapleton says Trump's tweets weren't about race or nationality.
STAPLETON: It just has to do with go back and fix your areas, and then you can try to fix my area.
REINGOLD: Montana native Tanner Lineberry came into the range to purchase an extended slide stop for his handgun.
TANNER LINEBERRY: It helps the gun go boom.
REINGOLD: He sells building supplies to construction companies and calls himself a Trump supporter, mostly because of the economy.
LINEBERRY: But it's really - it's true. Like, the economy is very strong right now. The numbers don't really lie.
REINGOLD: But he says Trump's wins go beyond the economy.
LINEBERRY: Working on policy, foreign policy, too, going and meeting with leaders that they've never had progress with those people before - presidents haven't.
REINGOLD: So he's not too worried about the tweets or the controversy that's followed. He says they're a distraction from the president's accomplishments. Lineberry says he's been watching Fox News in his office all day and reads the tweet just one more time to make sure he got it right.
LINEBERRY: Then come back and show us how.
LINEBERRY: I mean, it doesn't sound like they really want to be here, so, like, I agree. They should probably - if they don't want to be here, they should probably go somewhere else.
REINGOLD: He says Trump will have his support in 2020 so long as he doesn't go after gun rights. For NPR News, I'm Olivia Reingold in Billings, Mont.
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