Nearly 100 Days In, Trump Voter In One Rust Belt County Shares Concerns Jamie Ruppert of Pennsylvania supports President Trump, but says she'd give his first few months in office a B- or C+. He "stepped up" for the people of Syria, she says, but failed at health care.
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Nearly 100 Days In, Trump Voter In One Rust Belt County Shares Concerns

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Nearly 100 Days In, Trump Voter In One Rust Belt County Shares Concerns

Nearly 100 Days In, Trump Voter In One Rust Belt County Shares Concerns

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LYNN NEARY, HOST:

Since last November's presidential election, we've been checking in with people from all walks of life, including a young mother in Luzerne County, Penn. Like most voters in her community, Jamie Ruppert voted for Democrats in the past but picked Donald Trump this time. Nearly 100 days into Trump's presidency, NPR's Jeff Brady reports Ruppert still supports Trump, but she's starting to worry.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: It's spring in northeastern Pennsylvania. The snow is gone, and the forsythia bushes are blooming bright yellow. Top of mind for 33-year-old Jamie Ruppert is her pregnancy. Her third child is due at the beginning of July.

JAMIE RUPPERT: We got the crib already, been looking at bedding.

BRADY: It's a busy time. Still, Ruppert tries to watch the evening news to keep up with how President Trump is doing.

RUPPERT: I mean, obviously all you hear is the negative stuff and the tweeting - the tweeting, the tweeting, the tweeting.

BRADY: Ruppert was especially disappointed with Trump's unsupported accusation that former President Obama tapped his phones before the election. Ruppert voted for Trump because he promised to crack down on illegal immigration and create more manufacturing jobs. Those are domestic issues, but Syria and North Korea have dominated the headlines lately.

RUPPERT: I'm just hoping we're not biting off more than we can chew here and that we're ready for whatever repercussions might happen. I mean, it's easy to, you know, throw a rock at somebody. But knowing they're throwing it back at you, (laughter), you have to be ready. So...

BRADY: Beyond specific issues, Ruppert has started to worry that if Trump's presidency is viewed as a failure, she'll be a laughingstock because she voted for him.

RUPPERT: I'm always the one to tell people, told you so. So I don't want to be told, told you so (laughter). So I'm just hoping that, you know, you're not kicking yourself in the arse later because, you know, you voted for him and had faith in somebody that maybe misled you.

BRADY: We picked Ruppert for this reporting project because she's a good representative for her county. She worries about the future for blue-collar workers. In this Rust Belt community, the empty factories and abandoned coal mines are a constant reminder that Luzerne County's best economic days were in the past. That's why Trump's campaign message of make America great again helped him get votes here. And despite the president's low poll ratings across the country, he remains popular on the streets of Luzerne County.

ROGER KUENZEL: So far, I think he's doing a fabulous job.

BRADY: Roger Kuenzel likes Trump's vocal support for the military. And he says it doesn't bother him that the president's first try at repealing Obamacare failed. Outside the post office in the small town of Kingston, John Cordora also has praise for Trump.

JOHN CORDORA: I think his first hundred days is terrific. I think he's doing a good job.

BRADY: So if you were going to give the president a grade at this point, what kind of grade would you give him?

CORDORA: I'd say I'd give him a B-plus. And for effort, I'd give him an A-plus. But for productivity, I'd probably give him a B-plus.

BRADY: Back at Jamie Ruppert's house, her grade for Trump's first few months in office is a little less generous.

RUPPERT: I'd give him a C-plus, B-minus. I mean, you know, it's a learning curve. It's a period of adjustment. And so I don't think he's been terrible. I mean, he definitely stepped up when the people of Syria kind of needed some help. But did he kind of really bomb at the health care reform? Yeah.

BRADY: For people who oppose Donald Trump, even Ruppert's assessment may sound like a case of grade inflation has erupted in Luzerne County. But these assessments are not a surprise to local political science professor Beth Admiraal. She teaches at King's College.

BETH ADMIRAAL: I still think there's support for many of the things that Trump stands for, many of the things that he's claiming he's going to do. They still see this as coming.

BRADY: Admiraal says considering the hope Trump's campaign brought to this depressed part of the country, it will take something pretty dramatic before Luzerne County voters turn on Donald Trump.

ADMIRAAL: They're like hopeful college student parents waiting after a bad midterm grade for a really good grade on the final report.

BRADY: And it's still only a few months into President Trump's term in office, so that final grade is still a long way off. Jeff Brady, NPR News.

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