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How Trump's Controversial Comments Have Been Received By His Supporters


Earlier this week, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump suggested that Muslims should be barred from entering the U.S., at least temporarily. That statement has been widely denounced, including by other prominent Republicans, as bigoted, shortsighted and contrary to American law and values. And in fact, we're going to talk about how some people are reacting to this on social media in our Barbershop roundtable in just a few minutes. But first, we hear from NPR's Sam Sanders, who tells us that Trump's supporters heard those remarks in a different way.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Every night at the Red Barn Diner in Manchester, N.H., retired Army Maj. Jim O'Rourke gets the dinner special. He's usually joined by his good friend John Bartlett. I joined them this week and asked who they're voting for.

JIM O'ROURKE: I'm leaning toward Donald Trump because I'm fed up with the politicians that have been in there. And I'd vote for Donald Duck if he was running.

SANDERS: That's Jim O'Rourke. He says he likes Trump because he doesn't have any political experience.

O'ROURKE: I want one that's - has not made a career of being a politician. And this guy has not been a politician, he is financing his own campaign and he tells it the way it is.

SANDERS: O'Rourke a low opinion of most politicians.

What is it about him?

O'ROURKE: I don't trust them.


O'ROURKE: I don't trust them.

SANDERS: I asked for an example. He and Bartlett point to President Obama's threat to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if he used chemical weapons. They say Obama talked a good game at first.

O'ROURKE: And then he backed off.

JOHN BARTLETT: And then he didn't do anything. Well, you can't do that. Trump wouldn't have done that.

SANDERS: O'Rourke, like a lot of New Hampshire voters I spoke to, likes Trump for his toughness. He says what he means.

O'ROURKE: It's about time, you know, we have somebody stand up there and call it the way it is, like Teddy Roosevelt, say.

SANDERS: Jim O'Rourke says a big issue for him this election is national security. He says ISIS scares him like he's never been scared before.

O'ROURKE: I fought in the Korean War, the Vietnam War. I have two Purple Hearts. But this time, I'm afraid for the whole country. I'm afraid for our kids, our grandkids and everything - I don't know what's coming.

SANDERS: And for that reason, O'Rourke supports Trump's idea to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

O'ROURKE: I think we don't have any choice. We don't have any choice whatsoever but to ban them from coming in. This is not something new. We did it to the Japanese during World War II.

SANDERS: But his friend, John Bartlett, he disagrees with a complete ban.

BARTLETT: Scrutinize the Muslims that are coming over, just look at them more closely, make sure they don't have any ties to a terrorist group, that's all. If everything's fine, come on in.

SANDERS: O'Rourke says Trump would be ready to be president from day one. He'd put the right people in place to make the right decisions. And what really matters for O'Rourke is that Trump projects strength.

O'ROURKE: Well, it's about time we quit being meek. If we're going to be the strongest nation in the world and - then (expletive) it, act like it. You don't have to be tyrant but act like it. You know, you're not going to get pushed around.

SANDERS: Bartlett says there's something about Trump he just doesn't trust. He likes Ben Carson and Ted Cruz, but there is an area where they agree. They both think people need to stop with the outrage over what Trump says.

O'ROURKE: He doesn't offend me.

SANDERS: He doesn't offend you?

O'ROURKE: He doesn't offend me.

BARTLETT: Being offended is a choice. I believe that. You don't have - you don't hear a word and you have to be offended. You can say, that guy's a bone head, you know? You have the right to be offended or not to be offended.

SANDERS: After we finished talking, another guy down the counter stops me, asked me to interview him. He was listening to our conversation and he wasn't offended. But he did want to tell me all about why he's for Bernie Sanders. Sam Sanders, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sam worked at Vermont Public Radio from October 1978 to September 2017 in various capacities – almost always involving audio engineering. He excels at sound engineering for live performances.
Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.